Introducing LEARN CitSci – Exploring youth participation in citizen science

Introducing LEARN CitSci – Exploring youth participation in citizen science

Author: Julia Lorke – The Natural History Museum, London, United Kingdom

Heidi Ballard & Déana Scipio – University of California, Davis, US
Lila Higgins – Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, US
Christothea Herodotou Maria Aristeidou – The Open University, UK
Grant Miller – The University of Oxford, UK
Alison Young & Rebecca Johnson – California Academy of Sciences, US
Lucy Robinson – The Natural History Museum, London, UK

The Learning and Environmental science Agency Research Network for Citizen Science (LEARN CitSci) is a collaborative research programme studying the learning outcomes of participation in citizen science and crowdsourcing for young people aged 5-19 years.

Using the framework of Environmental Science Agency [1], we will study three settings in which young people take part in citizen science: 1) long-term monitoring projects, 2) short-term events such as BioBlitz, and 3) online or mobile-enabled projects.

The Environmental Science Agency (ESA) research framework is adapted from Basu and Barton’s concept of Critical Science Agency [2] and aims to investigate and support “the ability to use experiences in environmental science to make positive changes in one’s life, landscape and community” [3]. The development of ESA can be observed as:

  • Deepening understanding of environmental science content and practice.
  • Identifying an area of one’s own expertise in environmental science.
  • Using experiences in community and citizen science as a foundation for change.

We will employ mixed methods research to characterize the settings and activities in these programmes, to capture the learning processes, and to identify how programme features and settings in NHM-led citizen science projects foster or hinder the development of ESA.

LEARN CitSci brings together citizen science practitioners and educational researchers from six organisations:

  • University of California, Davis
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
  • The Natural History Museum, London
  • The Open University
  • The University of Oxford

This project is funded by the National Science Foundation and Wellcome with the UK Economic and Social Research Council.


[1] H. Ballard, C. Dixon, E. Harris (2017). Biological Conservation, 208: 65-75

[2] Basu, S. J., Barton, A. C., Clairmont, N., & Locke, D. (2009). Cultural Studies of Science Education, 4: 345-371

[3] UC Davis Center for Community and Citizen Science (2016). Fostering Environmental Science Agency. Research brief

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Idea in progress
Theme: Science
Area of interest: Applying science communication research to practice