“Ok—I Need Help from Somewhere”: The Educational Value of Multiplex Student Relationships in a Commuter College

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The present mixed-methods study provides insight into how students in higher education describe and form multiplex relationships in a cohort of students attending a commuter college, thereby improving our understanding of the complex relationships within student groups and their relation to learning. The main aim was to understand the student experience of networking with other students, particularly how commuter students perceive their academic multiplex relationships. Relational data were collected in a cohort of students (n = 109), complemented by 15 semi-structured interviews. One main finding was that students perceived that their largely homophilous multiplex relationships were central to academic achievement, but if students also had limited friendship relations these multiplex relationships could limit students’ academic experience. Another finding was how orientation week and group work done during the first semester mainly supported the formation of multiplex networks but were also perceived as barriers by some students. Likewise, commuting both scaffolded network building and became a barrier, especially for students with an immigrant background. One important implication for curriculum development is that faculty cannot leave relationship building to the students alone. A strategic model is discussed that supports emerging multiplex relationships, which can lead to gains in learning, retention, and integration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalInnovative Higher Education
Publication statusPublished - 2022-Jun-09

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Learning (50303)


  • Computer students
  • Commuter college
  • Mixed methodology
  • Social network
  • Multiplex relations


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