The constructive overlap: A study of multiplex ties in students’ study-related networks and academic performance

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This article adds to a growing body of literature on how various types of social relations can work synergistically to promote students' academic success. Students’ study-related social networks affect academic outcome in higher education. The network literature in education generally explores students’ various relations separately, rather than their multiplex relations or when individuals share several relations. This approach risks missing the full complexity of the student experience. The aim of the present study is to add to the discussion on student social networks and attainment in higher education by further exploring multiplex relations maintained in a specific study program, in which a large share of students in the cohort commute. A survey was distributed to students in one cohort (n = 146). The findings revealed that, in this cohort, students’ friendship, working and learning networks overlap substantially, and that centrality in the friendship and in the student multiplex networks was positively and significantly related to academic outcome, whereas centrality in the working and learning networks was not. Points for future research are suggested, and practical implications for those supporting student learning in higher education are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-295
JournalInnovative Higher Education
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Educational Sciences (503)


  • Academic outcome
  • Commuter student
  • Higher education
  • Multiplex relations
  • Social network analysis


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