University of Illinois at Chicago
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Intra- and Inter- School Interactions about Instruction: Exploring the Conditions for Social Capital Development

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journal contribution
posted on 2016-08-02, 00:00 authored by JP Spillane, M Hopkins, T Sweet
Understanding those factors associated with the existence of a tie among school staff is important because such ties are a necessary condition for social capital. Yet, there is a dearth of research on those factors associated with the existence of these ties. In this paper, we use covariate blockmodels and a p2 model to examine the role of both formal organizational structures and individual characteristics in shaping advice and information interactions about instruction within and between schools. Our findings suggest that, while individual characteristics are significantly associated with having a within school tie, aspects of the formal school organization—gradelevel assignment, having a formally designated leadership position, and teaching a single grade—are also significant and have larger estimated effects than individual characteristics. With respect to between school ties, we similarly found that the formal organization superseded individual characteristics, and that having a subject-specific formal leadership position, more than anything, predicted instructional advice and information ties. In addition, our analysis of interview data supports and extends these findings by showing that school staff associate formal positions with instructional expertise in subject-specific domains and that formal positions work in tandem with other aspects of the organizational infrastructure such as organizational routines to influence school staff members’ interactions about instruction.


Work on this article is supported by the Distributed Leadership Studies (http:// funded by research grants from the National Science Foundation (REC–9873583, RETA Grant # EHR – 0412510), the Institute for Education Sciences (Grant # R305E040085), and the Spencer Foundation (200000039). Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy and Institute for Policy Research supported this work.


Publisher Statement

This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in American Journal of Education. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in American Journal of Education. 2015. 122(1): 71-110. DOI: 10.1086/683292. © 2015 by The University of Chicago.


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