Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Thomas Macias


Public schools in the United States are organized in a formal structure with a principal serving as a hierarchical lead, teachers in a variety of professional roles reporting to them and paraeducators supporting the work of teachers. As is seen in an increasing number of organizations, there are informal networks built on the inter-personal relationships of the members of the community (Krackhardt, 1993). The purpose of this study is to measure and describe four types of informal networks, to compare these networks to each other, and to learn about how professional roles influenced the formation of the networks. This study considers how informal networks organize the attitudes and beliefs of teachers towards concepts like curriculum and instructional practice. The primary research question for this study is, “How do informal networks support or challenge the school’s organizational structure and staffing patterns?” This overarching question was answered using a mixed methods approach, combining Social Network Analysis (SNA), with qualitative interviews and observations at one K-8 school in the state of Vermont. Four networks were measured including instructional support, professional advice, emotional support and friendship, using a survey of teachers and UCINET analytical software. All interviews were coded and compared to observational data, as a supplement to the SNA results.

The results of this study identify variation in how informal networks operate and contribute to the provision of instructional support in schools. Moreover, the results show that informal networks, more than professional roles, are more influential sources of advice giving and collegial trust. In related research, advice giving and employee trust are shown to strongly influence reform efforts and student educational outcomes in schools. Results of this study identify organizational similarities between the advice and instructional support networks indicating relational stability. There are central members of the advice and instructional support networks who significantly influence communication and reform efforts, having direct implications to the success of school initiatives. Findings from this study indicate that professional role do not influence advice seeking behavior. As well, trust is a necessary factor in a teacher’s willingness to engage in new initiatives.



Number of Pages

115 p.