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LEARN CitSci: Learning and Environmental science Agency Research Network for Citizen Science

1st May 2017 - 30th April 2021

LEARN CitSci is a four-year international collaborative research project that aims to understand how young people develop Environmental Science Agency through their participation in Citizen Science programs at Natural History Museums (NHMs). Principal Investigators from the USA and UK include Citizen Science practitioners at The Natural History Museum Los Angeles County in Los Angeles, The Natural History Museum in London, and the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, and Educational Researchers from UC Davis, Open University, and the University of Oxford. LEARN CitSci is funded through the Science Learning+ initiative, a partnership between the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Wellcome with the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ERSC).

The study employs observations, surveys, interviews, and learning analytics to explore three overarching questions about youth learning:

  1. What is the nature of the learning environments and what activities do youth engage in when participating in NHM-led citizen science programmes?
  2. To what extent do youth develop science learning outcomes, through participation in NHM-led citizen science programs?
  3. What program features and settings in NHM-led citizen science programmes foster these science learning outcomes among youth?

The broader impact of this study includes research-based recommendations for NHM practitioners that will help make citizen science projects and learning science more accessible and productive for youth, strengthening youth STEM programmes, such that youth are empowered to engage in STEM research and activities in their communities, and making transformational steps toward improving the knowledge base and practices of informal STEM experiences.

The Open University team working for the project includes Dr Christothea Herodotou (co-PI), Dr Maria Aristeidou (Postdoctoral Researcher), Professor Eileen Scanlon, and Professor Mike Sharples.

Dr Christothea Herodotou is co-PI on the project, leading the online evaluation of learning in citizen science programmes.