Citizen Science: Testing new theories of public understanding of science

Sunday, 15 February 2015
Exhibit Hall (San Jose Convention Center)
Rebecca C. Jordan, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Citizen science has generated a growing interest among environmental and conservation biologists. The unifying focus of citizen science research is the discovery of the socio-scientific outcomes of expert/non-expert partnerships that involve collecting authentic scientific data. While different definitions of citizen science exist, I use a broad definition here: partnerships between those involved with science and the public in which authentic data are collected, shared, and analyzed. Citizen science, by definition, relies on cooperation between a range of experts and non-experts, which in many cases involves some sort of public engagement, education, and data collection. Citizen science programs are therefore interdisciplinary endeavors.  I argue that in the unique context of collecting and analyzing authentic data, those who study individual and socially-mediated learning have the opportunity to generate unique theory regarining learning motivation and impacts.  Based on the unique development of theoretical ideas, I and a number of my colleagues propose that citizen science should be acknowledged as a distinct discipline.