22 Pages

Getting beneath the surface

Examining the social side of Professional Learning Networks
ByJoelle Rodway

This chapter addresses a new way of thinking about and exploring the importance of relationships in Professional Learning Networks (PLN’s) from a sociological standpoint. There have been a growing number of education researchers who are using innovative research methods such as social network analysis to study how patterns of interaction among and between actors within a school system affect their work. The Child and Youth Mental Health (CYMH) program is an example of a Canadian research brokering network, a specific type of PLN focused explicitly on using research-based knowledge in the development of school mental health policy. The CYMH study was informed by network theory, which focuses on the consequences of observed patterns of interaction on the exchange of social capital within a network. Cohesion refers to the extent to which the members of a network are connected to each other; it speaks to the overall degree of connectedness within a network.