A Novel Data-Driven Approach to Examine Children’s Movements and Social Behaviour in Schoolyard Environments

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Social participation at schoolyards is crucial for children’s development. Yet, schoolyard environments contain features that can hinder children’s social participation. In this paper, we empirically examine schoolyards to identify existing obstacles. Traditionally, this type of study requires huge amounts of detailed information about children in a given environment. Collecting such data is exceedingly difficult and expensive. In this study, we present a novel sensor data-driven approach for gathering this information and examining the effect of schoolyard environments on children's behaviours in light of schoolyard affordances and individual effectivities. Sensor data is collected from 150 children at two primary schools, using location trackers, proximity tags, and Multi-Motion receivers to measure locations, face-to-face contacts, and activities. Results show strong potential for this data-driven approach, as it allows collecting data from individuals and their interactions with schoolyard environments, examining the triad of physical, social, and cultural affordances in schoolyards, and identifying factors that significantly impact children's behaviours. Based on this approach, we further obtain better knowledge on the impact of these factors and identify limitations in schoolyard designs, which can inform schools, designers, and policymakers about current problems and practical solutions.