Date of Award

Spring 4-1-2016

Document Type

Masters Plan B

Department

Science & Mathematics Teaching Center

Advisor

Professor Ana Houseal

Second Advisor

Professor Brian Barber

Third Advisor

Shelby Jones, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Bob Fuhrmann, M.S.

Abstract

Citizen science is a form of public participation in scientific research in which volunteers engage with scientists in authentic research projects. Citizen science projects have been studied to understand participant and scientist motivations and outcomes, particularly in scientific literacy and attitudes. Recently, citizen science projects have become more common in classrooms, but few studies document these outcomes using robust methodology. The current study was developed to measure local high school students’ understanding of science practices, attitudes toward science, and sense of place during a semester-long citizen science project in Yellowstone National Park using a mixed-methods design. Qualitative interviews revealed rich insight into students’ sense of place, attitudes toward science, understanding of science practices and nature of science, and impressions of citizen science. Results indicated that students exhibited place attachment and an increased understanding of place after participating in a PhotoPoints project. Many attitudes shifted to reveal their enjoyment of science through this project. Students displayed an increased understanding of scientific process, but maintained many misconceptions about the nature of science. Students also revealed that their impressions of citizen science include the value of citizen perspective to scientific research. These findings supported the hypothesis that citizen science projects can influence students’ scientific knowledge, sense of place, and attitudes. Additionally, students’ impressions of citizen science suggest this practice may contribute to democratizing science in classrooms. Instead of considering the influence of citizen science on individual dimensions, this study suggests that citizen science can be used as holistic, place-based tool to connect these dimensions and develop the whole learner.

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