Exploring classroom community: A social network study of Reacting to the Past


  • Jeff Webb Salt Lake Community College
  • Ann Engar University of Utah




Classroom Community, Social Networks, Role-Playing Games, Higher Education, Collaborative Learning


In this exploratory social network study, we examined how student relationships evolved during three month-long Reacting to the Past (RTTP) role-playing games in a lower division honors course at a large US public university. Our purpose was to explore how RTTP games—and collaborative learning approaches more generally—impact classroom community in college courses. We found that both acquaintance and friendship ties between students increased dramatically during the game, eliminating student isolation without tending to create new cliques. These added ties made acquaintance and friendship networks simultaneously denser and more inclusive than they were before the game. We conclude by advancing a hypothesis about the network effects of intensive peer interaction. Collaborative learning approaches like RTTP, we suggest, produce high-density networks with limited clustering because structured peer interactions cut across existing or naturally occurring clique boundaries.


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Author Biographies

Jeff Webb, Salt Lake Community College

Jeff Webb is currently the Director of Institutional Research at Salt Lake Community College. Previously he was the Associate Director of the LEAP Program, a first year learning community at the University of Utah.

Ann Engar, University of Utah

Ann Engar is a Distinguished Honors Professor at the University of Utah. She has been involved with Reacting to the Past since 2010.


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How to Cite

Webb, Jeff, and Ann Engar. 2016. “Exploring Classroom Community: A Social Network Study of Reacting to the Past”. Teaching and Learning Inquiry 4 (1):8-24. https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.4.1.4.