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Science experiences of citizen scientists in entomology research
Citizen science is an increasingly popular collaboration between members of the public and the scientific community to pursue current research questions. In addition to providing researchers with much needed volunteer support, it is a unique and promising form of informal science education that can counter declining public science literacy, including attitudes towards and understanding of science. However, the impacts of citizen science programs on participants’ science literacy remains elusive. The purpose of this study was to balance the top-down approach to citizen science research by exploring how adult citizen scientists participate in entomology research based on their perceptions and pioneer mixed methods research to investigate and explain the impacts of citizen science programs. Transference, in which citizen scientists transfer program impacts to people around them, was uncovered in a grounded theory study focused on adults in a collaborative bumble bee research program. Most of the citizen scientists involved in entomology research shared their science experiences and knowledge with people around them. In certain cases, expertise was attributed to the individual by others. Citizen scientists then have the opportunity to acquire the role of expert to those around them and influence knowledge, attitudinal and behavioral changes in others. An intervention explanatory sequential mixed methods design assessed how entomology-based contributory citizen science affects science self-efficacy, self-efficacy for environmental action, nature relatedness and attitude towards insects in adults. However, no statistically significant impacts were evident. A qualitative follow-up uncovered a discrepancy between statistically measured changes and perceived influences reported by citizen scientists. The results have important implications for understanding how citizen scientists learn, the role of citizen scientists in entomology research, the broader program impacts and the value of qualitative methodologies in citizen science research. Citizen science is championed for its ability to extend the geographic, temporal and spatial reach of a research team. It can also extend the educational reach through citizen scientists that have acquired the role of expert.
Lynch, Louise I, "Science experiences of citizen scientists in entomology research" (2016). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI10247550.