Funding secured to research the impact of online citizen science on science and technology education

Dr Cathal Doyle from Wellington School of Business and Government and Dr Cathy Buntting from the University of Waikato have received funding from the Teaching and Research Initiative to investigate the impact of online citizen science on education.

The Teaching and Learning Research Initiative (TLRI) supports partnerships between researchers and educators by funding projects expected to improve outcomes for learners. This year’s funding of over $1.7 million has been allocated to eight projects.

Dr Cathal Doyle and Dr Cathy Buntting have received over $446,000 for a three-year study building on a 2018 pilot project that demonstrated the benefits of embedding online citizen science (OCS) projects in primary school science.

Online Citizen Science projects involve non-scientists contributing to science projects over the internet. One example is Skink Spotter, where volunteers observe time-lapse image set to identify whether skinks are present.

Dr Doyle and Dr Buntting’s project will map progressions in students’ science capabilities, explore how engaging in OCS develops students’ learning in digital technologies, and investigate the impacts of teacher practices.

“Building on the success of our 2018 TLRI pilot project, we want to have a positive impact on primary and secondary school teacher practices in science and digital technologies across New Zealand,” says Dr Doyle. “In doing so, we’ll also make contributions to the science and technology education research landscape, and that will have a wider impact for online citizen science use in the classroom.”