Personal Network Analysis


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Students complete a name-generator based network survey, calculate common measures of network properties and write a short paper analyzing their own personal networks/ego-networks. This assignment is used in the course Introduction to Social Network Analysis. Students have read about ego networks, ways of measuring their properties, and the factors that shape them. The assignment is divided into three steps. In the first step students complete an ego network survey, including 6 name generators, a number of name interpreters, and a density matrix. Next the students use a worksheet to guide them in calculating properties of their network such as size, density, homophily, diversity, and average tie strength. The worksheet has students calculate these measures separately for their entire network, their weak ties, and their strong ties. In the final step, students write a short paper in which they analyze their networks, examining what their overall personal network looks like and how their strong ties and weak ties differ. The formating of the survey is based on the formatting of surveys created by Keith Hampton, including a survey included in TRAILS resource #9796.


Resource Type(s):
Alexandra Marin, University of Toronto 
Date Published:
Subject Area:
Social Networks 
Class Level:
Class Size:

Usage Notes:

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* This assignment requires that students have read research on personal networks/ego networks/support networks. The exact readings may vary, but in my use of this assignment students have read Marsden 1987 (Core Discussion Networks of Americans), Feld 1981 (The Focused Organization of Social Ties), Wellman 1979 (The Community Question), Wellman...

Learning Goals and Assessments:

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Goal 1:
1. Develop a deeper understanding of social network survey methods than can be gleaned from reading journal articles.
Assessment 1:
1. All three goals are assessed from the papers in which students analyze their networks.
Goal 2:
2. Demonstrate knowledge of processes that shape social networks.
Goal 3:
3. Demonstrate knowledge of how variations in data collection methods shape observed networks.

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Personal Network Assignment - Instructions.pdf
Personal Network Assignment - Step 1 - Survey.pdf
Personal Network Assignment - Step 2 - Describing Your Network.pdf
Personal Network Assignment - Step 3 - Analyzing Your Network.pdf