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Perry Chapman Prize

black and white photo of students studying in the library

about the project

Proximity Mapping Research

The 2014-15  Perry Chapman Prize has been awarded to W. Michael Johnson (City College of New York), Danuta A. Nitecki (Drexel University) and Michael Khoo (Drexel University). Based at Drexel, the team is studying how physical conditions influence learning outside of classrooms. The research records patterns of engagement among students, mapping the proximity between people as a proxy for the exchange of information. Low-resolution time-lapse images taken with ceiling mounted cell phone cameras will form the database for much of the work. The low-resolution images protect personal privacy, while allowing research on the engagement behavior within a population of students.

The goal is to provide evidence of spatial relationships among students in study areas. The outcome of the year-long project will be creation and testing of an evaluation tool which measures proximity mapping, intended to allow any campus planners to easily gather evidence for improving design of learning environments. 

For the latest updates, please visit the blog on the SCUP website.

about the Perry Chapman Prize

The Perry Chapman Prize is awarded annually from 2012 – 2016 by SCUP, the Society for College and University Planning. The prize funds research in the planning and design of institutions of higher education. The prize is intended to further the research, development, and dissemination of emerging knowledge to improve campus environments in support of their institution’s mission.

For more information about The Perry Chapman Prize and its supporters, please visit the SCUP website.

Chapman research Privacy Statement

Drexel University’s Institutional Review Board has reviewed the protocol for this research and determined that the project does not constitute “human-subjects” research and that the protocol conforms to Federal guidelines regarding the protection of individual privacy. More information about the protocol for this study and the Letter of Determination [PDF], which was approved on September 16, 2014, is on file in the Libraries.

What is the research team gathering?

The team is gathering time-lapse video that will be used to measure the distance between individuals working in learning spaces on campus. These videos will be gathered at random intervals in public spaces across the University. Video captured images will be recorded at a low resolution to ensure that individuals will not be identified.

What will be done with the data?

Data from this project will be shared with other researchers working in university planning and design. Information shared with these groups will be the final results of the study and not the raw video footage.

Questions about this study can be directed to