Cultivating citizen scientists


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  • We choseundergraduate students in one of college park scholars programs. College park scholar is an academic residential community for select freshmen and sophomores. We are visiting researchers asking for their help College Park Scholars is an academic residential community for select freshmen and sophomores. Invited freshmen matriculate into one of 11 interdisciplinary programs, each housed in the Cambridge Community on North Campus. The curriculum and activities for each program -- and for Scholars overall -- provide the interpersonal benefits of a small college paired with the intellectual advantages of a major research university. Each Scholars program is directed by a faculty member appointed by the sponsoring college’s dean and supported by a small staff. Programs each admit about 75 first-year students annually.College Park Scholars (Scholars) programs are two-year living-learning programs for first- and second-year students. Students who are invited to Scholars choose to be in one of our thematic programs.Science, Technology & Society (STS) enables students to identify and analyze the ways that science and technology shape, and are shaped by, society. Emphasizing the importance of social processes to shaping scientific research and technological development, STS students engage in research projects, interview campus-based researchers and write academic papers that link their research to larger social needs.
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  • Cultivating citizen scientists

    1. 1. Cultivating citizen scientists: How does working singly or in pairs, and the type of feedback influence motivation and contribution? Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory Yurong He, Carol Boston, Jennifer Preece, Anne Bowser, Dana Rotman, Derek Hansen
    2. 2. Citizen science Scientists invite citizens to voluntarily contribute to scientific projects 3
    3. 3. Citizen science challenges MORE Volunteers ! Data ! 4 [e.g., Crowston, 2013; Wiggins, 2013]
    4. 4. Previous research This study 5 Existing volunteers Potential volunteers
    5. 5. 6 Does cultivating citizen scientists work?
    6. 6. 7 Science, Technology, and Society (74 freshmen)
    7. 7. One-month citizen science project simulation: 8 A field experiment Week 1 & 2: Learn it! What is citizen science? Week 3 & 4: Do it! Collecting data for “Tree and Bird Observation on Campus”
    8. 8. 9 Easy: tree Difficult: bird Paper form Digital photo Collecting scientific data How?What?
    9. 9. Way of working in week 3 &4 : • Working in a pair • Working alone Researchers’ feedback in week 4: • Positive feedback • Positive directive feedback 10 [Zhu et al. 2013] Independent variables
    10. 10. 11 Volunteers’ motivation • Survey Volunteers’ data quantity • Number of words on paper form • Number of photos Dependent variables
    11. 11. Motivation 12 [Guay et al. 2000] Intrinsic motivation e.g. “I engaged in this activity because I think that this activity is interesting” Identified regulation e.g. “I engaged in this activity because I believe that this activity is important for me” External regulation e.g. “I engaged in this activity because I am supposed to do it” Amotivation e.g. “There may be good reasons to do this activity, but personally I don’t see any.”
    12. 12. 13 Motivation results • Week 3: Working in a pair “interesting” “important to me” • Week 4: Positive directive feedback “don’t see any good reasons” lower higher [Intrinsic motivation] [Identified regulation] [Amotivation]
    13. 13. 15 Data quantity results Week3: No difference between working alone and in a pair
    14. 14. Variables (Easy) (Difficult) Paper form Photo Paper form Photo Pair ND (no difference) ND ND More Positive directive Feedback More More More ND Interaction Yes N N Yes 16 Data quantity results Week 4:
    15. 15. 18 Data quantity results Tree & Paper form Bird & Photo
    16. 16. Interview result Working in a pair: Working alone: Reasons for… 19 “ If someone was there, it was a lot more appealing and more fun.” (P19) “Some of the other people in the class don’t take it as serious as I might like to. It’s kind of de-motivational being with others” (P7) “Not lonely, there is somebody you can discuss with when you are observing [trees and birds]” (P17) “Cause you can think about it more, you don’t have to always communicate your thoughts” (P26)
    17. 17. Implication for citizen science • Volunteers’ ways of working on citizen science • Difficulty of citizen science tasks • Type of feedback 20 Acknowledgement NSF : grant # 0968546. Contact Me:
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