Learning through Citizen Science

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A Blog Series for Citizen Science Educators and Coordinators

by: the Education Working Group

Photo courtesy of Mike Denniston, participant in the Gulf of Maine Research Institute’s Vital Signs program

What can people learn through participating in citizen science? Of course not all citizen science needs to incorporate learning objectives for participants. But for projects that do have this goal, how can such learning best be supported?

As the Education Working Group of the Citizen Science Association (CSA), we are launching this blog series to stimulate conversation and collaboration addressing these issues. Working together as a field, we hope to trigger ideas for publications, grant proposals, workshops, and the 2017 CSA conference. We invite you to join the discussion!

Founded in 2015, the CSA envisions “a world where people understand, value, and participate in science.” The association seeks to “advance citizen science through communication, coordination, and education.”  Through involvement in citizen science, people of all ages and backgrounds can contribute to science while building passion for and understanding of scientific ways to investigate the natural world.

Within the CSA, the Education Working Group aims to understand what types of learning, and what benefit to learners, are possible through participation in citizen science. Our focus is not on mastery of program protocols required for participation, but rather on the moments that transform the participant by expanding his or her ideas, interests, sense of self, skills, or understanding of scientific concepts.

Recognizing that transformative learning across all audiences and the great diversity of citizen science activities is an enormous area of inquiry, we are choosing to begin our work with a somewhat narrower focus on learning among youth and the adults who facilitate their experiences (teachers, parents, docents, informal educators, mentors, club leaders, etc.).

Over the next few months, we will explore the strategies and design choices that can advance learning opportunities and scientific inquiry through citizen science activities. This blog series will open a dialogue for educators, scientists, and citizen science participants around key issues such as learning objectives, working across diverse communities, sharing leadership and credit, and communicating within the citizen science enterprise.

We need your help! Please use the comment section to post your thoughts.

  •    What key research questions would advance the field of learning through citizen science?
  •    What research or project evaluation findings already exist to inform future study?
  •    What existing practices appear promising in integrating citizen science and learning?
  •    What related topics would you like to see future blog posts address?

Together, we can shape this emerging field.

Posted on: September 29, 2015  |  Category: Blog, CSA Working Groups, Education, News
Tags: citizen science, CitSci2017, education, engagement, learning