In the last twenty years, citizen science has blossomed as a way to engage a broad range of individuals in doing science. Citizen science projects focus on, but are not limited to, nonscientists participating in the processes of scientific research, with the intended goal of advancing and using scientific knowledge. A rich range of projects extend this focus in myriad directions, and the boundaries of citizen science as a field are not clearly delineated. Citizen science involves a growing community of professional practitioners, participants, and stakeholders, and a thriving collection of projects. While citizen science is often recognized for its potential to engage the public in science, it is also uniquely positioned to support and extend participants’ learning in science.
Contemporary understandings of science learning continue to advance. Indeed, modern theories of learning recognize that science learning is complex and multifaceted. Learning is affected by factors that are individual, social, cultural, and institutional, and learning occurs in virtually any context and at every age. Current understandings of science learning also suggest that science learning extends well beyond content knowledge in a domain to include understanding of the nature and methods of science.
Learning Through Citizen Science: Enhancing Opportunities by Design discusses the potential of citizen science to support science learning and identifies promising practices and programs that exemplify the promising practices. This report also lays out a research agenda that can fill gaps in the current understanding of how citizen science can support science learning and enhance science education.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Learning Through Citizen Science: Enhancing Opportunities by Design. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25183.
|2 Mapping the Landscape||27-52|
|3 Overview of Citizen Science as a Context for Learning||53-70|
|4 Processes of Learning and Learning in Science||71-102|
|5 Citizen Science as an Opportunity for Science Learning||103-124|
|6 Designing for Learning||125-142|
|7 Conclusions and Recommendations||143-158|
|Appendix A: Demographic Analyses of Citizen Science||159-168|
|Appendix B: The Evolution of Learning for Design||169-172|
|Appendix C: Characteristics of Science Learning in Citizen Science Projects: An Ad Hoc Review||173-176|
|Appendix D: Biographical Sketches of Committee Members and Staff||177-184|
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Scientific research that involves nonscientists contributing to research processes – also known as ‘citizen science’ – supports participants’ learning, engages the public in science, contributes to community scientific literacy, and can serve as a valuable tool to facilitate larger scale research, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. If one of the goals of a citizen science project is to advance learning, designers should plan for it by defining intended learning outcomes and using evidence-based strategies to reach those outcomes.
This video introduces the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s report, Learning Through Citizen Science: Enhancing Opportunities by Design (2018) that identifies ways citizen science projects can be designed to effectively support learning.
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