CSI papers published: Engagement in science through citizen science

Engagement in science through citizen science: Moving beyond data collection by T.B. Philips, CSI member Bruce Lewenstein, and colleagues; email: blewenstein@cornell.edu

To date, most studies of citizen science engagement focus on quantifiable measures related to the contribution of data or other output measures. Few studies have attempted to qualitatively characterize citizen science engagement across multiple projects and from the perspective of the participants. Building on pertinent literature and sociocultural learning theories, this study operationalizes engagement in citizen science through an analysis of interviews of 72 participants from six different environmentally based projects. We document engagement in citizen science through an examination of cognitive, affective, social, behavioral, and motivational dimensions. We assert that engagement in citizen science is enhanced by acknowledging these multiple dimensions and creating opportunities for volunteers to find personal relevance in their work with scientists. A Dimensions of Engagement framework is presented that can facilitate the innovation of new questions and methodologies for studying engagement in citizen science and other forms of informal science education.

Bruce Lewenstein, Science & Technology Studies