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Citizen Science and Youth Education

Abstract

"One conclusion from our review of the effectiveness of citizen science in achieving documented learning outcomes for youth is that the promise is so far greater than the reality. At least two facts could contribute to this finding.

First, few citizen science projects currently support or provide opportunities for the practices of scientific inquiry to develop. In many projects, providing educational supports for learning are not a priority. Practitioners who design and implement citizen science projects need to understand that learning doesn't just "happen" via project participation. For example, citizen science participants are unlikely to change their attitudes toward science unless their participation includes reflection about their role and how it relates to the processes of science.

Second, individuals who design and implement citizen science projects currently do not have easy methods for assessing the outcomes of their projects. As the field of citizen science grows and matures, more assessment tools such as those being developed by the DEVISE project at the Lab of Ornithology should make it easier for practitioners to both design projects for maximum educational effectiveness and to measure whether educational objectives are being achieved."

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