Using Sociograms to See Trends in Team Discussions

Our TRC team is conducting research on equal distribution of talk in teams.  Before the school year started, our team decided to use sociograms to collect data on equal talk.  One of my first attempts at using the sociogram was in an Inclusion Algebra 1 class where the teams have been together for about a week. I decided to observe a team comprised of three boys and one girl.  Student B was a freshmen male on an IEP, student A was a freshman female who earns the highest score on every assessment in this class, and student D was a junior male who was in Algebra I for the third time. The black print was my first minute to 2 minutes of observing the team.  As you can see every student was addressing their questions to Student A. Student A had a lot of patience and kept repeating herself to different teammates throwing questions at her. When the team noticed me taking notes, they asked me what I was writing down. I decided to show them the notes I took on the sociogram. 

After explaining that the arrows described who was talking to whom, the team was not surprised that most arrows pointed to Student A because, as one student in the team said (and the others agreed), “She is smart in math.” After hearing this comment, I decided to have a brief team discussion about being “smart” in anything and how it’s more important to work hard and give it your best effort. (This helped to reinforce our class norms that we have been discussing and emphasizing since our year began.)   I gave the team some phrases to use when working on a problem to move the discussion further and modeled what I would say if I was Student A to help the team without giving away too much information or answers. After our discussion, I stayed there a minute more and used a red pen to show their dialogue. As you can see, they started to ask each other more questions and tried not directing everything to Student A. I was pleasantly surprised that they started using the tools we discussed and wondered if they would have done the same if I had the discussion without showing them my data on the sociogram. I wonder, did the data collection help sell the tools? While using a sociogram allowed me to see trends in discussions and to collect data on those trends, I never thought that I would share these with teams until this happened organically today.  I look forward to collecting more data using sociograms and now hope that I’ll be able to incorporate sharing the results with the teams as we move forward with our research.

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