Sociometry in the Classroom: What You Should Know

April 4, 2020
Inside every classroom we find a group of people who have established various interpersonal relationships. In this article, we're going to learn how sociometry helps us to observe, study, and analyze these relationships that occur between these people.

Sociometry in the classroom makes it easier for us to have a better understanding of the relationships among children, and also between them and their teachers. These relationships can be very diverse, varied, and complex.

In this way, any educational intervention that people propose can be more positive and effective. This is because it will be based on a more systematic study of social relations.

Sociometry is a method that can help us to obtain more specific and objective data about the relationships that exist in the classroom. But, in order to reach these conclusions, we first need to know what sociometry is.

What is sociometry?

Sociometry is a quantitative and statistical method, developed by the psychotherapist Jacob Levy Moreno. Its aim is to study and measure the types of relationships that exist in different types of groups.

Sociometry investigates how groups evolve and are organized. It also looks at the position of each individual within that group. Its purpose is to observe the interpersonal relationships that occur within groups, formed by individuals who know and influence each other, and who have common objectives.

A class of children.

A useful and innovative tool in sociometry is the so-called sociogram. This is a graphical representation of the group’s structure. By using it we can show the relationships between its members. It also shows the subgroups, the position of each person, those who are leaders, and those who go unnoticed.

The sociometric test

To obtain a sociogram, sociometry uses a technique called a sociometric test. It addition to that it uses a table containing answers and results called a sociomatrix. The test consists of a questionnaire with a few questions. Each person states which members of their group they want, or don’t want, to carry out a specific activity with.

You must tell the group members that their answers won’t be disclosed to the rest of their classmates. However, you should warn them that their answers should be as honest as possible. If not, then you won’t be able to guarantee the study’s validity.

The objective here is to measure the preferences or dispositions of each group member for interaction or communication with others within that group, regarding a particular task. A sociometric test will allow you to obtain data such as:

  • The social position of each member within the group.
  • Locating leaders that help the group to get together and then to analyze the consequences of their actions within the group.
  • The level of acceptance that each member has in their group.
  • Information on the productive areas of the group.
  • The degree of group cohesion, and if there’s good integration or different isolated groups.
  • Marginalized, isolated members who find it difficult to integrate.
  • Spontaneous collective reactions to certain events in the group, such as the incorporation of new members, for example.

It’s important to emphasize that you can apply the test in a stable and structured group. A class or group of students fulfills these characteristics.

So, for that reason, applying a sociometric test in the classroom can be very effective in helping us to understand the relationships that develop among its members.

A classroom scene.

The benefits of sociometry in the classroom

Sociometry and the application of a sociometric test in order to obtain a school sociogram has many benefits. This is mainly because it enables a better knowledge and understanding of the true functioning of the class and how integrated they are.

Sociometry can help us discover what’s really happening in the group. This is something that isn’t always easy to spot just by simple observance. The test can also reveal relationships of affinity between members that should be considered and addressed.

All information in this sense is very valuable and useful in order to avoid situations of harassment, rejection or bullying in the classroom. It also allows teachers to take any necessary educational and pedagogical decisions in the class. And, finally, it can help them to create didactic strategies whose objective is to work on integration within the class.

In short, you can achieve all these things by considering aspects such as communication, cooperation, solidarity, companionship and empathy among the children in the class.