Entomology, Department of


Date of this Version



Diversity 2021, 13, 339.



Copyright: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY


Citizen science is known for increasing the geographic, spatial, and temporal scale from which scientists can gather data. It is championed for its potential to provide experiential learning opportunities to the public. Documentation of educational outcomes and benefits for citizen scientists continues to grow. This study proposes an added benefit of these collaborations: the transference of program impacts to individuals outside of the program. The experiences of fifteen citizen scientists in entomology citizen science programs were analyzed using a constructivist grounded theory methodology. We propose the substantive-level theory of transference to describe the social process by which the educational and attitudinal impacts intended by program leaders for the program participants are filtered by citizen scientists and transferred to others. This process involves individual and external phases, each with associated actions. Transference occurred in participants who had maintained a long-term interest in nature, joined a citizen science program, shared science knowledge and experiences, acquired an expert role to others, and influenced change in others. Transference has implications for how citizen scientists are perceived by professional communities, understanding of the broader impacts and contributions of citizen science to wicked problems, program evaluation, and the design of these programs as informal science education opportunities.