"Choose Your Classmates, Your GPA Is at Stake!": The Association of Cross-Class Social Ties and Academic Performance

Dragan Gašević, Amal Zouaq, Robert Janzen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

115 Citations (Scopus)


This article presents results from an investigation of the association between student academic performance and social ties. Based on social capital and networked learning research, we hypothesized that (a) students' social capital accumulated through their course progression is positively associated with their academic performance and (b) students with more social capital have significantly higher academic performance (operationalized as grade point average). Both hypotheses were supported by results of an empirical study that analyzed 10 years of student course enrolment records (N = 505) in a master's degree program offered through distance education at a Canadian university. These results are consistent with previous studies that looked at social networks built through student interaction in classrooms or computer-mediated communication environments. The significance of this research lies in the simplicity of the method used to establish student social networks from existing course registration records readily available through an institution's student information system. Direct implications of this research are that (a) study plans for students should consider investment in building new social ties in each course during degree programs and (b) readily available data about cross-class networks can be used in software systems supporting study planning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1460-1479
Number of pages20
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • learning analytics
  • social ties
  • student performance

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