Research methods

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The research design of the LEARN CitSci project was based upon the following:

  • We systematically examined three learning settings (event-based, longer-term outdoor monitoring, and online settings) within community and citizen science programs to investigate how youth participation looked, how youth develop Environmental Science Agency, and what particular strategies and structures contributed to or constrained the environmental science learning outcomes associated with the Environmental Science Agency.
  • The main research questions that guided our work were:
    • What is the nature of the learning environments, and what activities do young people engage in, when participating in NHM-led citizen science?

    • To what extent do young people develop the following three science learning outcomes:

      • an understanding of the science content?

      • identifying roles for themselves in the practice of science?

      • developing a sense of agency for taking actions using science, through participation in NHM-led citizen science programs?

    • What programme features and settings in NHM-led citizen science foster the three science learning outcomes outlined above?

  • To answer these questions, we used a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods for data collection and analysis. Our methods ranged from ethnographic field notes and post-participation interviews to surveys and log files analysis.

  • Our research in LEARN CitSci spanned over five years and four phases.

    • Phase 1 — We explored and characterized the different learning settings, spaces and social contexts of the existing NHM-led citizen science programs involving youth. In field-based settings we mainly used ethnographic field-notes and in online settings we used log files.

    • Phase 2 –We started investigating youth participation and learning outcomes in different learning environments from a socio-cultural learning theory perspective. In phase 2, we conducted interviews and surveys in addition to ethnographic field notes and log files.

    • Phase 3– We adapted a Design-based Research framework to identify programme design features that might impact youth learning. In this phase, researchers and practitioners collaborated closely to use the result of strategically analyzed data from Phase 1 and 2 to co-identify the impactful design features, implement strategies across all the programmes and collect data to find evidence of progress in learning outcomes. However, the data collection of these implementations were disrupted during the world health crisis caused by Covid-19, mostly due to the cancellation of in person activities. We did manage to adapt two programmes for online delivery, but gathering the research data was also limited.

    • In the fourth phase, we continued with the analysis of youth participation and learning across the different learning settings. 

  • Please visit our findings page (link) to find out more about our results.

Supporting young people to use tools to explore nature can enhance their learning outcomes © NHM LA

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