We welcome a guest post from Danuta A. Nitecki, Dean of Libraries and Professor, College of Computing & Informatics at Drexel University Libraries
As ACRL liaison to SCUP [Society for College and University Planners] I have become increasingly aware of how institutional planners and architects are addressing key issues in higher education. I also try to impress such campus colleagues with contributions librarians make to the same set of topics. In this blog post I share an example of an initiative, funded by a SCUP managed prize. Through it, a collaboration of expertise from the practice of architecture, faculty research, and librarianship is focusing on creating a tool to assess learning within library space. The broad research interest is to understand how factors in an environment relate to learning.
I am honored to have received the 2014-15 Perry Chapman prize with my two colleagues: W. Michael Johnson is a practicing architect specializing in educational programming and academic facility design, and is also an Adjunct Professor at The Spitzer School of Architecture, CCNY/CUNY, teaching how to use big data and empirical modeling in building design. Michael Khoo, Ph.D., is assistant teaching faculty at Drexel’s College of Computing and Informatics, with degrees in anthropology and communication, and fifteen years of ethnographic and qualitative research experience in field sites including libraries, archives, and digital libraries. I am the practicing librarian on the research team, with over forty years of library administrative leadership experience, focusing on services, applications of technologies, and space design, as well as research, teaching and publications especially on topics of evaluation and assessment.
Since summer 2014 we have been studying how physical conditions influence learning outside of classrooms. With assistance of students hired through the project, we are taking low-resolution time-lapse images with ceiling mounted cell phone cameras and recording these in a database. These images allow us to study student engagement behaviors while they protect personal privacy. The research records patterns of peer engagement among students, mapping the proximity between people as a proxy for the direct exchange of information. Our IRB review determined that our work does not constitute human–subjects research.
Our goal is to provide evidence of physical conditions that foster a broad sharing of ideas across a campus. The outcome of the year-long project will be creation and testing of a tool to measure the density and frequency of peer interaction. This proximity mapping tool is intended to allow any campus planners, including librarians, to easily and confidentially gather empirical evidence for improving designs of learning environments.
For more information, including some sample images and updates, please visit our blog at: http://www.scup.org/page/resources/perry-chapman-prize/2014-2015team
The Perry Chapman prize of $10,000 has been awarded annually since 2012. As described on the SCUP website, “This 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.” Applications are now sought for the 2015-16 year which is the last scheduled for this prize; for details see http://www.scup.org/page/resources/perry-chapman-prize SCUP administers the prize in honor of Perry Chapman and The Hideo Sasaki Foundation supports it. Deadline for submission of proposals for 2015-16 is May 31, 2015.