Collaborative Research: Exploring Engagement and Science Identity Through Participation--A Meta-Analysis of Citizen Science Outcomes (EESIP)
The Exploring Engagement and Science Identity Through Participation is a research project that examines the outcomes of various citizen science models for Public Participation in Scientific Research (PPSR). The investigation specifically targets citizen science projects that focus on relationships between science learning and science identity. A mixed-method, meta-analysis approach will be employed. The two primary goals of the study are to better understand science learning and science identify within PPSR contexts and to develop a valid Participant Engagement Metric (PEM) for use within PPSR contexts. Data will be collected and analyzed from several PPSR projects and over 4,000 PPSR participants. The project will address several research questions: (1) What are the dimensions of PPSR engagement and how can we measure them across different project models? The research for this question will include approximately 50 interviews of participants in six primary projects representing a range of PPSR approaches to develop and validate a Participant Engagement Metric (PEM) that will be constructed from the frequency, duration and intensity of involvement in key activities. The project will use a constant comparative method of data analysis (processing of data as they are gathered in order to compare them with emerging categories. The development of the PEM will be one concrete outcome of the proposed research. (2) Within and among projects, what is the relationship between participant engagement and individual learning outcomes? The project will use validated measures of learning outcomes derived from Learning Science in Informal Environments (NRC, 2009) and developed for the DEVISE project described below. The six measures include: Behavior & Stewardship, Skills of Science Inquiry, Knowledge of the Nature of Science, Interest in Science & the Environment, Efficacy, and Motivation. The proposed research will look at how engagement affects learning outcomes, as assessed by these six measures (science interest, efficacy, etc.). The project will conduct participant surveys in the six participating citizen science projects in addition to several other PPSR projects to test the relationship of the PEM and other measures of activity involvement to the learning outcomes measured by the survey instruments developed and validated through a previous project. The data analysis will begin with univariate summary statistics that will provide an overview of the basic dataset. Inferential statistics including multiple regression analysis will be used to test the relationships among the independent variables (type of PPSR project, demographics), PEM as a mediator variable, and the dependent variables. (3) How does degree and quality of participation in scientific research develop and/or reinforce individual science identity? The project will conduct a 3-year longitudinal study using surveys, a series of in-depth interviews, and on-site observations of 36 participants from the six primary projects to understand the development of individual science identity within PPSR environments over time. Quantitative and qualitative data and findings will be "triangulated" to determine if convergent, inconsistent or complementary results can be identified. The project proposes a strong dissemination plan, using these approaches, to present research in journals, disseminate research briefs, host online forums, and launching various listserves and online forums at the citizenscience.org website.