This research has been published online in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.
Researchers in this study analyzed 80,000 interactions between 290 college students. They found that increased number of online interactions usually represent more scores in the class.
“More frequent and intense social interactions generally imply better score for students engaging in them.” Researchers noted.
Researchers have also found that the students with high marks are, usually, more connected to others, and exchange information in more complex ways resulting in some exclusive groups, “rich-club”, moving out low-performing students. These low-grade students could eventually be dropped out of the class.
“Elite groups of highly connected individuals formed in the first days of the course,” said co-author Manuel Cebrian, a computer scientist at the university and a senior researcher at National ICT Australia Ltd, Australia’s Information and Communications Technology Research Centre of Excellence.
“For the first time, we showed that there is a very strong correspondence between social interaction and exchange of information — a 72 percent correlation,” he continued.
“But almost equally interesting is the fact that these high-performing students form ‘rich-clubs,’ which shield themselves from low-performing students, despite the significant efforts by these lower-ranking students to join them.
“The weaker students try hard to engage with the elite group intensively, but can’t. This ends up having a marked correlation with their dropout rates.”
Luis M. Vaquero, & Manuel Cebrian (2013). The rich club phenomenon in the classroom Scientific Reports DOI: 10.1038/srep01174