The Open UniversitySkip to content

Unpacking (in)formal learning in an academic development programme: a mixed-method social network perspective

Rienties, Bart and Hosein, Anesa (2015). Unpacking (in)formal learning in an academic development programme: a mixed-method social network perspective. International Journal for Academic Development, 20(2) pp. 163–177.

Full text available as:
PDF (Accepted Manuscript) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (724kB) | Preview
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


How and with whom academics develop and maintain formal and informal networks for reflecting on their teaching practice has received limited attention even though academic development (AD) programmes have become an almost ubiquitous feature of higher education. The primary goal of this mixed-method study is to unpack how 114 academics in an AD programme developed internal (within their programme) and external (outside their programme) learning and teaching relations. A secondary goal is to highlight the affordances of social network analysis (SNA) methods in conjunction with qualitative approaches for academic developers to understand the (in)formal learning processes in their AD programme. The quantitative results indicate that participants maintained 4.84 relations within their AD programme and 3.17 external ties. The qualitative results indicate that most academics developed a range of emotional, academic, and professional support links, which were mostly outside the AD context. Participants needed an outlet to share their feelings, challenges, and frustrations about their teaching and their experiences on the AD programme. These feelings were shared with people they trusted, primarily close friends and colleagues. This study provides a social perspective on the formal and informal relations of AD, and argues that SNA techniques can help academic developers to make these relationships visible.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2015 Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 1470-1324
Extra Information: Special issue: Social networks and informal learning: implications for academic development
Keywords: academic development; informal learning; social capital; social network analysis
Academic Unit/School: Learning and Teaching Innovation (LTI) > Institute of Educational Technology (IET)
Learning and Teaching Innovation (LTI)
Research Group: Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET)
Item ID: 43276
Depositing User: Bart Rienties
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2015 14:47
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2018 19:58
Share this page:


Altmetrics from Altmetric

Citations from Dimensions

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU