Citizen Science Embedded Assessment

Thursday, January 1, 2015 to Saturday, December 31, 2016
Resource Type:
Project Descriptions
Environment Type: 
Public Programs, Citizen Science Programs
Museum/ISE Professionals | Scientists | Evaluators
Ecology, forestry, and agriculture | Education and learning science | Life science
University of Maryland, Karen Peterman Consulting, Co., PEER Associates

The Citizen Science Embedded Assessment project will explore the use of embedded assessment to measure participant science inquiry skill development within the context of citizen science projects. Citizen science (CS) projects partner volunteers with scientists to participate directly in research endeavors. Embedded assessments (EAs) assess participant skills and performance that are directly integrated and are indistinguishable from day-to-day activities. As such, EAs allow learners to demonstrate their science competencies through tasks that are integrated seamlessly into the learning experience itself. The CS field has a growing inventory of self-assessment tools, however, the evaluation of citizen science (and other informal science projects) using such subjective assessments can be remarkably improved when these are used in combination with objective measures of knowledge, skills or other resources participants gain through their participation. Science skills, such as data collection and analysis, are particularly important for CS projects because of their focus on the scientific process and their need for rigorous data collection. Despite the focus on skill gains, CS projects rarely measure such improvements. Embedded assessments (EAs) offer a critical method for understanding the impacts of these participatory learning environments. The project will develop and field test EAs on citizen science topics with an environmental science focus. It will also design training to support their use by individual projects. The project has three primary research foci: (1) identifying common and unique science inquiry skills targeted by CS projects, and how skills are currently being measured to document project impact; (2) identifying the opportunities and challenges present in developing and administering EA tools customized for CS projects to assess science inquiry skills; and (3) assessing whether EA tools created for a CS project can provide project leaders with a better understanding of their project's impact on participant science inquiry skills. The project will address these questions with a needs assessment of research and evaluation studies within the CS community and case studies to develop and test EAs customized for three identified and interested CS projects.

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Team Members

Karen PetermanCo-Principal Investigator
Rachel Becker-KleinRachel Becker-KleinCo-Principal Investigator
Amy Grack NelsonContributor

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