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Citizen Science in the Classroom: Assessing the Impact of an Urban Field Ecology Program on Learning Gains and Attitudes toward Science

Collins, Andrew

This study examines the educational impact of a citizen-science based teaching unit in the formal classroom setting. Citizen science has traditionally involved amateur scientists and adult volunteers, however, an increasing number of projects are focusing on student participants and K-12 education. A six-week curriculum intervention based on a citizen-science project studying ant diversity in urban areas was implemented in a New York City middle school science classroom. Quantitative analysis of students’ pre- and post-assessments indicate significant learning gains as compared to a similar reference group that did not receive the intervention. Students in the treatment group showed a 22% greater increase in content knowledge from pre- to post- assessments. Qualitative analysis of these assessments along with interview responses show a positive change in students’ perceptions and attitudes toward science as well as an increased desire to contribute to ongoing research. Students expressed increased confidence in their ability to contribute to scientific research after participating in this educational program. The results from this study provide an analysis of the effectiveness of citizen-science based curriculum units and support their use in the formal classroom setting.

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Academic Units
Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology
Degree
M.A., Columbia University
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