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Document Type

Dissertation - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department / School

Sociology and Rural Studies

First Advisor

Meredith Redlin


This study examines the possible impacts of networking behavior on academic performance and attrition among two undergraduate student cohorts within a single department at one state university using a model based on prior research by Alvin Hwang, Eric H. Kessler, and Anne Marie Francesco (2004). This networking schema links students’ personal orientations, classified as individualist or collectivist, with behaviors such as networking among peers (horizontal networking) and networking between students and professors (vertical networking). The primary research methods in the current study were student surveys, which sought to capture selected basic demographic data, students’ personal orientations, and horizontal and vertical networking behavior; two focus groups, one with each cohort, to supplement the survey data; and students’ grade and program attrition data, provided by instructors. Analyses only supported a link between students’ levels of collectivism and horizontal networking. Focus group testimony suggested that intervening variables, such as changing instructor assignments in the middle of an academic year and inter-cohort differences in levels of competition and collaboration among students could exert more influence on student performance than networking behavior. Furthermore, shifting instructor assignments could impact students’ vertical networking and make it difficult to ascertain actual networking effects.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

College students -- Social networks
Academic achievement
Teacher-student relationships
Interpersonal relations


Includes bibliographical references (pages 78-82)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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