A leadership and SNA perspective on the spread of new competency-based education models and practices across higher education institutions: First look at quantitative results

Bruce Haupt

Contact: bruce.haupt@uky.edu

The proposed session provides the first look at the quantitative results for a mixed methods research project on the association between multiplex patterns of inter-organizational relations and the emergence of new competency-based education (CBE) models and practices in the U.S. higher education environment. While policymakers, researchers, and philanthropic organizations acknowledge the importance of networks in spreading and scaling-up higher education innovations, there is a dearth of research examining postsecondary inter-organizational networks (IONs) from a social network perspective. The Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN) is one example of an ION intended to support educational change. C-BEN was formed in 2013 as a network of postsecondary institutions to catalyze and support adoption of new CBE programs and practices in the United States. Extant ION research has shown that information-sharing and knowledge exchange, network learning, and innovation are crucial functions of IONs. This research project seeks to deepen the understanding of how these processes occur within a higher education context, emphasizing social network and complexity leadership theoretical lenses. Research questions in the explanatory sequential mixed methods study include: What is the relationship between the social network structure in the CBE inter-organizational network with implemented CBE innovations? How do CBE innovations spread across institutions of higher education in the CBE ION? How does C-BEN influence the CBE ION in spreading CBE innovations? The quantitative component of the study focuses on the first research question. This presentation will thus include early analysis of these quantitative results related to the: (a) network level structure and properties; (b) comparative centrality and influence of actors; (c) antecedents of relational ties (i.e., homophily); (d) dynamics of sub-groups; and, (e) relationship of the network to CBE innovation outcomes. A view of the role of C-BEN as an intermediary organization and its influence on relations and the spread of CBE models and practices will also be discussed. The project is part of the National Research Collaborative on Competency-Based Education/Learning organized by the American Institutes for Research, and is the recipient of grant funding from the Lumina Foundation. This research is part of the author’s dissertation research, under the supervision of faculty advisor John Nash at the University of Kentucky.

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