Measuring School Neighborhood Quality: Implications for Education and Child Development


Faculty Member: Dana McCoy

How do neighborhood contexts influence children's educational and developmental outcomes? Are early childhoodinterventionsmoreorlesseffectiveindifferenttypesofcommunities? Thisprojectaimstoaddressthese questions through the development of a virtual Systematic Social Observation (SSO) tool that will allow researchers to take a virtual “walk” through neighborhoods using Google Street View and code what is happening around the neighborhood. In this study, we will be applying this tool to constructs relevant to school and young children, including school quality (e.g., whether a school’s entrance is welcoming and child-friendly), child resources in the neighborhood (e.g., the presence of playgrounds and welcoming parks), and building structure (e.g., whether a building’s wall has graffiti or child-friendly murals).

RA duties:

Students will be responsible for coding school neighborhoods using the new SSO tool and Google Street View, attending meetings to provide feedback to interpret the tool, and (as relevant) conducting basic statistical analyses.



Students should have an interest in child development, education, and/or sociology. Students should be well organized, analytically minded, and eager to work as part of a team. Work can be completed virtually and flexibly, based on the students' schedules. Student must also be able to manage develop, clean, and manage quantitative databases using Stata. Must be a current Harvard College Undergraduate. 


Please email Dana McCoy ( with your resume.

This position is part of the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program (URS) in the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University. If hired, students will participate in the IQSS URS program. Scholars must be current Harvard College undergraduates.