An article containing findings from my research on social learning and GIS-based planning tools has been published by the journal Environment and Planning B, the leading journal for research on IT and analytical methods applied to urban problems. The article is titled “Sketching and learning: a planning support system field study,” and the abstract is below. Readers without a subscription to this journal should contact me for a copy for their private research or educational use.
One of the important bottlenecks to the wider adoption of planning support systems is a lack of evidence about whether they improve planning processes. In addition, existing research does not include field studies with high context validity. This paper fills this gap in the literature by reporting the results from a field study evaluating the performance of a planning support systems used for sketch planning as part of a land use planning project in metropolitan Austin, Texas, USA. Participants reported high levels of learning and dialog quality, the two chosen planning support systems performance measures. A regression analysis finds both are related to the ability of planning support systems to change participants’ perceptions. In addition, as suggested by learning theory, the planning support systems performance outcomes are significantly related to participants’ identity as a planner and meeting attendance, but are not related to gender or educational attainment. Finally, for the planning support systems studied here, participation in the planning support systems creation is less important than other factors in explaining planning support systems performance. The paper contributes to efforts to develop and implement robust measures of planning support systems performance and links concept of planning support systems performance to broader theories of learning.