Barbara Dzieciatko- Szendrei (PhD student)

Thesis title: Making Sense of Teachers' Communities of Practice with Social and Epistemic Network Analysis


I'm a graduate in MA Sociology and MRes Social Research. My research experience extends to planning research objectives, field work, qualitative and quantitative data gathering, processing and analysis.

I have an extensive teaching experience  in Scottish FE that entails the development of national units and unit delivery across a range of levels (from National 5 subjects to Higher National Diploma) using varied teaching methods; proven excellency in teaching and quality standard compared nationwide; leadership skills and management of student success to a high standard. 


2010 - MA (Hons) in Sociology, University of Aberdeen

2011 - Masters of Research (MRes) in Social Research Methods, University of Aberdeen

2017 - PG Cert in Teaching Qualification for Further Education (TQFE)

Research summary

My research interests extend to politics, equality and justice, education and social relations. Theoretically and methodologically I have always been interested in the structuration approaches and combining qualitative and quantitative methods. 

Current research interests

My current interests are reflected in the project of Teachers' Communities of Practice (CoP) as a transformative network of relations that has positive impact on student outcomes and teacher's work, sense of belonging and agency. The project is focused on investigating how can CoPs be fostered and sustained over a period of time; how CoPs can be better investigated and understood by using a combined methodology of Social and Epistemic Network analysis and also what are their practical limitations. CoP is defined as flexible groups of professionals, informally bound by common interests, who interact through interdependent tasks guided by a common purpose thereby embodying a store of common knowledge. Through the project I aim to describe and understand the mechanisms involved in formation of CoPs amongst teachers that is under-researched in school-context; and how teachers are able to exercise their agency in decision-making process through participation in their CoP. The project also takes an innovative angle at combining two methodologies of Social Network and Epistemic analyses to achieve this. In doing so this project benefits from interdisciplinary approach and collaboration with established academics from fields of sociology and data science. It is also my purpose to empower participants, school leaders and other knowledge users by helping them to understand how they influence community-building process and how it can be implemented in their professional setting.

Knowledge exchange

I'm a committee member of Research-led Teacher Education Network (RTEN):

I'm currently assisting at Agent of Change Toolkit  for teachers  project:

Project activity

Making sense of Teachers Communities of Practice with Social and Epistemic Network analysis – summary of the project

Communities of Practice (CoPs) are generally defined as collaborative informal networks that support professional practitioner in their efforts to perform their work and engage in work relevant knowledge building. Research up to date has focussed on CoPs at either structural or individual level.  Our aim is to integrate both approaches to produce a visual representation of networks that can be characterised as CoPs and explore any effect such structures have on teacher’s agency (and vice versa) across time.

We propose a combined Social Network Analysis (SNA) and Epistemic Network Analysis (ENA) to study teachers’ collegial networks in which they share aims and understanding of their practice and support each other, often referred to as Community of Practice, by asking the following questions in order to analyse relationship between structural relations and agency:

1. What kind of relational patterns can be observed in the network structures that support the development of teachers’ relational agency?

2. How do networks of such relationships emerge and develop over time through teachers’ purposeful interactions with others, e.g. colleagues, families and other professionals?

SNA can provide information about formal and informal structures of relations, but its ability to capture effects on behaviour is limited to the effect of structural properties, such as reciprocity of support. Since CoPs imply shared aims and understanding, we also need to capture the nature of content that flows through the interactions. Hence, we combine SNA with the Epistemic Network Analysis (ENA) - a method for quantifying qualitative data, visualising and interpreting it as a network of connections between concepts, to explore not just what teachers do and with whom, but how and why they do it. The strength of this technique lies in the ability to study narratives taking advantage of statistical tests to measure change in discourses across time or between groups.



Current project grants

I am and ESRC funded PhD candidate through Scottish Graduate School of Social Science

Conference details

2020 SUNBELT Paris July - Combining Social and Epistemic Network Analyses to Study Teachers' Communities of Practice (Poster) - Submitted:

2020 EARLI SIG 17 Vienna Educational Research September 2020 - Challenges in studying Teachers Communities of Practice with Social and Epistemic Network Analysis (Accepted):

2022 SUNBELT. Cairns Making sense of teachers' communities of practice with social and epistemic network analysis: how does sharing a purpose amongst teachers shape the network interactions in a school and online discussion forum?

2022 International Conference for Quantitative Ethnography (ICQE22). Copenhagen. Making Sense of Teachers’ Communities of Practice with Epistemic Network Analysis (poster):