Science Learning via Participation in Online Citizen Science

We investigate the development of scientific content knowledge of volunteers participating in online citizen science projects in the Zooniverse (, including the astronomy projects Galaxy Zoo ( and Planet Hunters ( We use econometric methods to test how measures of project participation relate to success in a science quiz, controlling for factors known to correlate with scientific knowledge. Citizen scientists believe they are learning about both the content and processes of science through their participation. Won't don't directly test the latter, but we find evidence to support the former - that more actively engaged participants perform better in a project-specific science knowledge quiz, even after controlling for their general science knowledge. We interpret this as evidence of learning of science content inspired by participation in online citizen science.

Karen Masters, (ICG Portsmouth) Eun Young Oh, Joe Cox (Portsmouth Business School), Brooke Simmons, Chris Lintott (Oxford Astrophysics), Gary Graham, Anita Greenhill, Kate Holmes
(Submitted on 22 Jan 2016)

Comments: 32 pages (9 pages of Appendix material). Accepted for publication in the Journal of Science Communication (JCOM; this http URL)
Subjects: Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Computers and Society (cs.CY); Physics Education (physics.ed-ph)
Cite as: arXiv:1601.05973 [astro-ph.IM] (or arXiv:1601.05973v1 [astro-ph.IM] for this version)
Submission history
From: Karen Masters
[v1] Fri, 22 Jan 2016 12:23:10 GMT (4973kb)

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