Teacher Advice-Seeking: Relating Centrality and Expertise in Middle School Mathematics Social Networks


by Dan Berebitsky & Christine Andrews-Larson — 2017

Background/Context: Teachers’ relationships with principals, instructional coaches, and other teachers have important implications for the improvement of their instructional practice and student learning. In particular, teachers who access content-specific instructional expertise through their social networks are more likely to exhibit and sustain evidence of instructional improvement; teachers who seek advice from colleagues with knowledge of both content and pedagogy have evidenced growth in their own knowledge and improved classroom instructional practice.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: In this paper, we extend the literature by examining how formal role relates to the relationship between expertise and advice-seeking in the context of urban middle school mathematics teachers’ social networks. Specifically, we first explore how network centrality varies across formal role group (i.e., teacher, instructional coach, and principal/assistant principal), and second, we investigate how centrality relates to expertise within each formal role group.

Research Design: We draw on a variety of data sources taken from a 4-year observational study of a sample of 30 schools and 533 teachers, coaches, and administrators in four large urban school districts. In particular, we rely on data from a network survey to document teachers’ advice-seeking behaviors, and we draw on the broader data set to document formal role and measures of expertise within each role group.

Findings/Results: The main findings are: (1) coaches were significantly more central than teachers, who are significantly more central than administrators; (2) teachers with greater expertise were more central; (3) while coach expertise was not related to centrality, teachers were more likely to nominate a coach if they perceived the coach to have expertise and be evaluative; and (4) administrators were rarely nominated.

Conclusions/Recommendations: Findings indicate that teachers are accessing information from those with expertise and experience, which suggests that advice-seeking among teachers may be self optimizing. Furthermore, teachers’ advice-seeking seems to be shaped both by their efforts to access expertise and in response to accountability pressures. This calls for caution against the misalignment of formal role and expertise. Our findings suggest that those in a social network whose social status is elevated to the formal role of coach are more sought out for advice, particularly if they are perceived to have evaluative power. This can inform what administrators can expect of teachers’ informal advice-seeking as well as how advice-seeking patterns are likely to shift if a teacher is made a coach.



To view the full-text for this article you must be signed-in with the appropropriate membership. Please review your options below:

Sign-in
Email:
Password:
Store a cookie on my computer that will allow me to skip this sign-in in the future.
Send me my password -- I can't remember it
 
Purchase this Article
Purchase Teacher Advice-Seeking: Relating Centrality and Expertise in Middle School Mathematics Social Networks
Individual-Resource passes allow you to purchase access to resources one resource at a time. There are no recurring fees.
$12
Become a Member
Online Access
With this membership you receive online access to all of TCRecord's content. The introductory rate of $25 is available for a limited time.
$25
Print and Online Access
With this membership you receive the print journal and free online access to all of TCRecord's content.
$210


Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 119 Number 10, 2017, p. 1-40
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 21841, Date Accessed: 10/17/2017 9:42:21 PM

Purchase Reprint Rights for this article or review