The social fabric of elementary schools: A network typology of social interaction among teachers

Nienke M. Moolenaar, Peter J C Sleegers, Sjoerd Karsten, Alan J. Daly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


While researchers are currently studying various forms of social network interaction among teachers for their impact on educational policy implementation and practice, knowledge on how various types of networks are interrelated is limited. The goal of this study is to understand the dimensionality that may underlie various types of social networks in schools. We assessed seven types of social interaction using social network data of 775 educators from 53 Dutch elementary schools. The quadratic assignment procedure, multidimensional scaling and network visualisations were used to discern underlying dimensions that may explain the interrelatedness of these seven types of social networks. Findings suggest small to moderate similarity between the seven forms of social interaction. Results support a distinction between instrumental and expressive networks and suggest a second dimension of mutual in(ter)dependence to explain differences in social interaction among teachers. Implications for practice and research on teacher collaboration are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-371
Number of pages17
JournalEducational Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • social network
  • teacher collaboration
  • teacher interaction


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