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When students obtain a better position in a social network, how does it change their academic performance? The present study asserts that that network structure provides a form of social capital independent of network content in schools. We use fixed-effects models to estimate how improving degree centrality and brokerage opportunity affects academic achievement in middle school, net of all time-invariant student characteristics and the content of the friend network. The results support our argument that improving network position advances academic achievement, but that these effects are not uniform across academic subjects. Increasing reciprocated friendships leads to greater mathematics achievement, while moving into a brokerage position in the friend network increases achievement in language arts. These findings highlight the importance of network position on academic achievement, and the relevance of instructional context in shaping the link between resources and achievement in school.
Dr. Jonathan Horowitz is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto. His research interests include the effect of educational institutions on position in the labor market and communities, and the resulting effects on inequality and political participation.
The research investigates how schooling–especially higher education–affects the credentialing and sorting of graduates, provides a central location which draws students towards them, and is a social system for producing network ties. His work appears in the American Sociological Review, Social Problems (forthcoming), Social Forces, Sociology of Education, Sociological Forum, and Sociu.
Welcome to the Data, Equity, and Policy in Education Lab
Our goal for the lab is to serve as a repository for information and multi-disciplinary datasets. We also hope it will serve as a meeting space to help facilitate the exchange of data and ideas between researchers from multiple fields of study.