Study eyes relation of small
schools to community ties,
students’ physical activity


A Texas A&M doctoral student is investigating whether small neighborhood schools, when compared to larger suburban schools, better promote students’ walking to school and the social cohesion of the communities they serve.

The one-year study, undertaken by Urban and Regional Science student Hyung Jin Kim and funded by a $124,680 Active Living Research Grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, will test these assumptions, which if true, Kim said, could helpschool districts design and place schools to take advantage of these trends.

“Policy makers emphasize the value of small neighborhood schools, which tend to be more supportive of walking and contribute to social cohesion of the community,” said Kim.“However, few studies have attempted to examine if ‘old-and-small’ neighborhood schools have stronger physical and social ties with the surrounding communities than ‘new-and-large’ suburban schools.”

Kim’s study will employ various techniques, including a spatial centrality index, geographic information system-based spatial analysis, environmental audits, and simply counting the number of students who walk to school, to objectively measure and assess school-community relations and the environmental characteristics of 14 targeted neighborhoods within the Austin Independent School District. He will also gather data from parents and their children who attend these schools.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, with a mission of improving the health and health care of all Americans,  invests in improving systems through which people receive health care and in fostering environments that promote health and prevent disease and injury.


- Posted: Jan. 18, 2011 -

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Contact:   Phillip Rollfing, or 979.458.0442.


Hyung Jin Kimg

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