An automated approach to measuring child movement and location in the early childhood classroom

  • Dwight W. Irvin
  • Stephen A. Crutchfield
  • Charles R. Greenwood
  • William D. Kearns
  • Jay Buzhardt


Children’s movement is an important issue in child development and outcome in early childhood research, intervention, and practice. Digital sensor technologies offer improvements in naturalistic movement measurement and analysis. We conducted validity and feasibility testing of a real-time, indoor mapping and location system (Ubisense, Inc.) within a preschool classroom. Real-time indoor mapping has several implications with respect to efficiently and conveniently: (a) determining the activity areas where children are spending the most and least time per day (e.g., music); and (b) mapping a focal child’s atypical real-time movements (e.g., lapping behavior). We calibrated the accuracy of Ubisense point-by-point location estimates (i.e., X and Y coordinates) against laser rangefinder measurements using several stationary points and atypical movement patterns as reference standards. Our results indicate that activity areas occupied and atypical movement patterns could be plotted with an accuracy of 30.48 cm (1 ft) using a Ubisense transponder tag attached to the participating child’s shirt. The accuracy parallels findings of other researchers employing Ubisense to study atypical movement patterns in individuals at risk for dementia in an assisted living facility. The feasibility of Ubisense was tested in an approximately 90-min assessment of two children, one typically developing and one with Down syndrome, during natural classroom activities, and the results proved positive. Implications for employing Ubisense in early childhood classrooms as a data-based decision-making tool to support children’s development and its potential integration with other wearable sensor technologies are discussed.


Real-time location system Ubisense Data-based decision making Classroom location Atypical movement 


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dwight W. Irvin
    • 1
  • Stephen A. Crutchfield
    • 2
  • Charles R. Greenwood
    • 1
  • William D. Kearns
    • 3
  • Jay Buzhardt
    • 1
  1. 1.Juniper Gardens Children’s ProjectUniversity of KansasKansas CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of Special EducationCalifornia Polytechnic State University at San Luis ObispoSan Luis ObispoUSA
  3. 3.Department of Rehabilitation and Mental Health CounselingUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA

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