Evaluating impact of participation in Citizen Science programs involves asking the right questions such as: Which public(s) contribute to knowledge production? What motivates individuals to participate? What benefits do individuals perceive and what constrains their participation? Can involvement of teachers and students increase their understanding of key concepts? Can involvement influence their attitudes? Does taking part in original environmental research increase sustainable behaviour? Can use of digital media increase participation of a younger demographic? Can participation of employees feed back in positive ways to supporting organisations? Does participation of public(s) change the direction of research?
Case-study programs will be considered; these aim to contribute to original environmental or astronomical research: ClimateWatch, PlantWatch, TeachWild and SkyNet. In evaluating impacts, what are the best questions to ask and what methodologies are useful in addressing them?
These programs involve participants contributing original observations in order to develop large data sets. ClimateWatch is a young Australian Earthwatch program while PlantWatch is an established Canadian program; individuals contribute observations of flowering time of plants and/ or animal behaviour. TeachWild is a new Earthwatch program that will involve monitoring marine debris around the vast Australian coast and impacts of debris on wildlife. SkyNet is a global, online program in which participants contribute computer power and/ or make astronomical observations.
 
Citizen Science programs have many potential benefits, including involvement of public in original science.
Examination of changing attitudes about science and environment or increasing scientific literacy are unlikely to be fruitful means of determining success of programs like PlantWatch with a large proportion of experienced and older volunteers. However there is still value of participation in Citizen Science by people with much to contribute, especially as most Baby Boomers reach retirement and have time, energy and expertise to contribute back to society.
Participants in TeachWild, ClimateWatch and SkyNet include students and teachers. These programs may be more likely to contribute to changing attitudes and improved understandings.
Measures of success need to be carefully thought through, with different measures applied to programs that attract different demographics.
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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Participation in citizen science programs
Research to evaluate impact

Nancy Longnecker   The University of Western Australia

Evaluating impact of participation in Citizen Science programs involves asking the right questions such as: Which public(s) contribute to knowledge production? What motivates individuals to participate? What benefits do individuals perceive and what constrains their participation? Can involvement of teachers and students increase their understanding of key concepts? Can involvement influence their attitudes? Does taking part in original environmental research increase sustainable behaviour? Can use of digital media increase participation of a younger demographic? Can participation of employees feed back in positive ways to supporting organisations? Does participation of public(s) change the direction of research?
Case-study programs will be considered; these aim to contribute to original environmental or astronomical research: ClimateWatch, PlantWatch, TeachWild and SkyNet. In evaluating impacts, what are the best questions to ask and what methodologies are useful in addressing them?
These programs involve participants contributing original observations in order to develop large data sets. ClimateWatch is a young Australian Earthwatch program while PlantWatch is an established Canadian program; individuals contribute observations of flowering time of plants and/ or animal behaviour. TeachWild is a new Earthwatch program that will involve monitoring marine debris around the vast Australian coast and impacts of debris on wildlife. SkyNet is a global, online program in which participants contribute computer power and/ or make astronomical observations.
 
Citizen Science programs have many potential benefits, including involvement of public in original science.
Examination of changing attitudes about science and environment or increasing scientific literacy are unlikely to be fruitful means of determining success of programs like PlantWatch with a large proportion of experienced and older volunteers. However there is still value of participation in Citizen Science by people with much to contribute, especially as most Baby Boomers reach retirement and have time, energy and expertise to contribute back to society.
Participants in TeachWild, ClimateWatch and SkyNet include students and teachers. These programs may be more likely to contribute to changing attitudes and improved understandings.
Measures of success need to be carefully thought through, with different measures applied to programs that attract different demographics.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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