First Advisor

William Becker

Date of Publication

Fall 12-15-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Teaching (M.S.T.) in General Science


Science Teaching




Environmental sciences -- Research -- Citizen participation, Environmental education, Science -- Study and teaching, Action research



Physical Description

1 online resource (v, 80 pages)


Citizen science projects present a distinctive opportunity for professional and volunteer scientists to coordinate their efforts to gather unique sets of data that can benefit the scientific and local communities. These projects are assumed to be an effective educational tool to teach nature of science (NOS) to participants (Brossard, Lewenstein, Bonney, 2005). This case study evaluates the effectiveness of participation in a citizen science project as a way to learn about NOS. Through enhancement of the Tryon Creek Owl Monitoring Project the researcher reviewed the characteristics of a citizen science project that were thought to be necessary to impact the volunteers' knowledge of NOS. The study also explored the benefits and limitations to organizing the citizen science protect using the principles of action research. Analysis of participants' knowledge and the effectiveness of active research theory, was evaluated through pre- and post- questionnaires and interviews. Although volunteers were able to explore the core themes of NOS through actively engaging in the scientific process, they did not experience a statistically significant change in their demonstration of understanding. For a multitude of reasons, participants had a positive experience with the presence of an embedded researcher within the project. This case study supports the use of active research as a guide to ensure that within each project the needs of both the scientific community and the volunteer scientists are met.


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