Title

Addressing Three-Dimensional Learning with Citizen Science Projects

Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type

Masters Plan B

Department

Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources

Advisor

Andrea Burrows, Chair

Second Advisor

Brandon McElroy, Outside Member

Third Advisor

Brian Barber, Member

Fourth Advisor

Diana Wiig, Member

Abstract

Citizen science, or the inclusion of non-professionals in scientific research, has been used for decades to increase scientific knowledge and involve citizens in problems affecting their communities. These projects can be beneficial to students at the middle school level in that they provide informal learning opportunities in which they can create relationships with professional scientists and researchers, which can increase their interest in different scientific fields. There is also the possibility for citizen science projects to address changing science standards, though research on this topic is lacking.

This study looks at the use of a particular citizen science project, Girl Scouts in Science: Discovering Wyoming Water, and its ability to address the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in an informal educational setting. The researcher used observation notes from program meetings as well as focus group discussions with participants of the Girl Scouts in Science program to determine which components of the three dimensions of learning were addressed, either by facilitators or participants. Results show that this program inherently addressed the Science and Engineering Practices dimension of NGSS, as the project focused on completing a research project. Disciplinary Core Ideas and Crosscutting Concepts were also addressed, though only several in particular were explicitly used and showed up prominently. This study also suggests that different components of a citizen science program such as this one can address different components of the three learning dimensions.