We are studying what impact citizen science projects have on the young people that take part in them.
The LEARN CitSci project is an international partnership bringing together citizen science practitioners and educational researchers from six organisations in the UK and the US.
- The Natural History Museum, London
- University of California, Davis
- California Academy of Sciences
- Natural History Museum of Los Angeles
- The Open University
- The University of Oxford
The study is led by Lucy Robinson, Citizen Science Manager at the Natural History Museum, London and Prof Heidi Ballard of the University of California, Davis School of Education.
This study aims to understand how young people aged 5-19 years develop knowledge, practices and agency with environmental science through their participation in natural history museum-led citizen science and crowdsourcing projects. Agency, in this context, is the ability to take meaningful personal action in their life or community.
Our project objectives include:
1) Explore and characterize youth participation in different learning environments
What is the nature of the learning environments, and what activities do young people engage in, when participating in NHM-led citizen science?
2) Examine learning outcomes across settings from socio-cultural learning theory perspective
To what extent do young people develop the following three science learning outcomes:
- an understanding of the science content?
- identifying roles for themselves in the practice of science?
- developing a sense of agency for taking actions using science, through participation in NHM-led citizen science programs?
3) Identify strategies programmes can implement to enhance learning outcomes
What programme features and settings in NHM-led citizen science foster the three science learning outcomes outlined above?
The LEARN CitSci team of practitioners and researchers are employing qualitative and quantitative research methods to characterize the settings and activities in these programs, to capture the learning processes and outcomes, and to identify how program features and settings in natural history museum-led citizen science foster or hinder environmental science learning.
Our methods range from ethnographic field notes and interviews, to surveys and online learning analytics.
- Key Findings: Enhancing youth learning through Community & Citizen Science - A guide for practitioners (PDF 31.2MB) Robinson, L.D., Miller, A.E., Burton, V.J., Herodotou, C., Higgins, L., Miller, G.R.M., Young, A.N., Ghadiri Khanaposhtani, M., Benavides Lahnstein, A.I., Sanghera, H.K., Johnson, R.F., Aristeidou, M., Ballard, H.L., Jennewein, J., Lorke, J., Pratt-Taweh, S., Wardlaw, J., Ismail, N., Pauly, G.B., Papathoma, T. and Swanson, R.D. (2021)
- Contributions to conservation outcomes by natural history museum-led citizen science: Examining evidence and next steps. Ballard, H.L., Robinson, L.D, Young, A.L , Pauly, G.B , Higgins , L.M , Johnson, R.F, Tweddle , J.C. Journal: Biological Conservation.
- Youth-focused citizen science: Examining the role of environmental science learning and agency for conservation. Ballard, H. L., Dixon, C. G. H., & Harris, E. M. Journal: Biological Conservation.
University of California, Davis
California Academy of Sciences
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles
The Open University
The University of Oxford