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Learning and the transformative potential of citizen science

Bela, Györgyi; Peltola, Taru; Young, Juliette C.; Balázs, Bálint; Arpin, Isabelle; Pataki, György; Hauck, Jennifer; Kelemen, Eszter; Kopperoinen, Leena; Van Herzele, Ann; Keune, Hans; Hecker, Susanne; Suškevičs, Monika; Roy, Helen E.; Itkonen, Pekka; Külvik, Mart; László, Miklós; Basnou, Corina; Pino, Joan; Bonn, Aletta. 2016 Learning and the transformative potential of citizen science. Conservation Biology, 30 (5). 990-999. 10.1111/cobi.12762

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Abstract/Summary

The number of collaborative initiatives between scientists and volunteers (i.e., citizen science) is increasing across many research fields. The promise of societal transformation together with scientific breakthroughs contributes to the current popularity of citizen science (CS) in the policy domain. We examined the transformative capacity of citizen science in particular learning through environmental CS as conservation tool. We reviewed the CS and social-learning literature and examined 14 conservation projects across Europe that involved collaborative CS. We also developed a template that can be used to explore learning arrangements (i.e., learning events and materials) in CS projects and to explain how the desired outcomes can be achieved through CS learning. We found that recent studies aiming to define CS for analytical purposes often fail to improve the conceptual clarity of CS; CS programs may have transformative potential, especially for the development of individual skills, but such transformation is not necessarily occurring at the organizational and institutional levels; empirical evidence on simple learning outcomes, but the assertion of transformative effects of CS learning is often based on assumptions rather than empirical observation; and it is unanimous that learning in CS is considered important, but in practice it often goes unreported or unevaluated. In conclusion, we point to the need for reliable and transparent measurement of transformative effects for democratization of knowledge production.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1111/cobi.12762
CEH Sections: Pywell
Watt
ISSN: 0888-8892
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: biodiversity, collaborative assessment, participation, science–society–policy interactions, transformative learning
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Data and Information
Date made live: 11 Aug 2016 13:52 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/514242

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