Human Webbing

Complex web or network of human relationships

A lecture or book can be divided into main ideas and this can be shown structurally on a concept map. But many relationships are so complex and interwoven that they require a different form of visual representation.

Relationship Chart in the classroom

I first used a web as a teacher. I don’t remember what the official name was for this chart.

I asked students to each list 1-5 classmates that they would like to work with when we divided into teams. Then I drew a chart.  I drew arrows pointing to the chosen person. This shows mutual relationships and one-way relationships.Circles represent people and arrows show relationships.

I started with the students chosen most often (center of the page) and around them, wrote names of students who chose them.  Then around the outside, I listed students who did not choose one of the more central students and drew lines to those they chose.

Many other students will relate to one or several of those who chose the more popular students.

Sometimes you find that there is a secondary clump of students who are friends with each other but not with any of the main group of students.

Occasionally, you encounter an isolate – a student who doesn’t select anyone at all and who is not chosen by any other student.

In a classroom, this chart shows friendship relationships. The students chosen most often are generally the most popular (and occasionally smarter  – chosen because students think they’ll get a higher grade).

The secondary group might all live in the same neighborhood and be part of the same activity (sports team, karate, art or dance class, musical group, etc.

The isolate could be a new student, someone who is extremely shy, or someone avoided for other reasons by the other students.

Relationship chart in a student organization

I would begin the same way, asking members to list 1-5 people they would most like to work with. I would draw the chart in the same way.

In an organization, many people may not have formed friendships with others in the group, but unlike many classroom isolates, they may have strong friendships outside the group. People who are chosen most often may be those seen as group leaders rather than as popular.

How might you use this information?

1. Put one apparent leader in each working group.
2. Put people into groups with those they had chosen.
3. Focus on those not chosen by anyone else. They will not feel comfortable staying in this organization unless they begin developing relationships and feel they are a valued member of the group.

Leaders should
A. Talk to them and learn about their interests and skills and introduce them to members with similar interests. Those with artistic skills could work with the people who usually make posters.  Those with writing skills might work with those preparing stories to send to the school paper.
B. Greet them with a smile at the beginning of a meeting and take a few minutes to talk to them, telling them you are glad to see them again.
C. Be sure to give them something to do so they will feel like a valued member of the group.

If you know of or think of new ways to use webbing, please leave a comment to share your ideas.

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