College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Fall 11-20-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Susan M. Fischer Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Anuj P. Sarma Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Eric Landahl Ph.D.


In this study, we examined interactions within student groups and between groups and instructors. A deeper exploration of group dynamics helps educators to more fully understand student groups and student learning within the classroom. Our data are from a two-week summer program for incoming college freshman that focuses on helping students develop metacognitive and self-assessment tools. With the intention of using Social Network Analysis (SNA), we took the novel approach of creating network graphs from video data as opposed to surveys. However, given the isolated nature of the groups, the quantitative measures of SNA were inappropriate for our small group networks, and we focused instead on a qualitative analysis of student interactions, distinguishing between on-topic and off-topic categories. This preliminary analysis identified several areas for further exploration, at which point we continued our analysis using epistemological framing, which is how people structure their understanding within an activity to make sense of what is taking place and how it is related to their knowledge. We analyzed group video data to assess verbal and non-verbal cues within student groups for two categories: the task category (on-task and off-task frames) and seriousness category (serious and silly frames). We explored the intersection between the frames, the time spent in these frames, the initiators of the frames, and roles that the on-task/silly frame serves for student groups. We found that groups’ epistemological framing involves an interplay between individual group dynamics, the nature of the activity, and how instructors interact with the groups. We also found that the on-task/silly frame can be categorized into purposeful roles demonstrating the usefulness of the silly frame in the classroom.

SLP Collection


Included in

Physics Commons