Training Citizen Scientists to Collect Ecological Data
PhD Student, Education- Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
University of the Rockies, Denver, CO
PI: Dr. Kimberly Fonteix
Committee members: Dr. Greg Newman, Dr. Charles Dull
Training Citizen Scientists: A Qualitative, Comparative, Multiple Case Study to Identify Theoretical and Instructional Design Themes in Current Citizen Science Training Initiatives
This dissertation inquiry investigates citizen science training. Citizen scientists are volunteers who participate in scientific activities under the guidance of professional scientists and organizations. The work of citizen scientists expands the data collection possibilities in natural resource management and increases science literacy among participants and their social communities. Citizen scientists are increasingly important to the on-going assessment of ecological restoration, species identification, and monitoring on natural lands. The general problem is data collected by citizen scientists is often viewed as unreliable by the scientists and land managers who might use it. The specific problem is the absence of educational training measurement in citizen science program design and analysis with which to ascertain the learning gains of trained citizen scientists. To address this problem, this dissertation lays the observational groundwork for developing training themes in citizen science. This may lead to improved training programs for citizen scientists and improved data reliability. This qualitative multiple case study involves a sequential investigation of CitSci.org member organizations, including training document analysis, an organizational survey, and follow-up semi-structured interviews with training leaders to identify content, theoretical, and instructional design themes in and perceived efficacy of current citizen science training initiatives.