Citizen Science Embedded Assessment

January 1st, 2015 - December 31st, 2016 | PROJECT

The Citizen Science Embedded Assessment project will explore the use of embedded assessment to measure participant science inquiry skill development within the context of citizen science projects. Citizen science (CS) projects partner volunteers with scientists to participate directly in research endeavors. Embedded assessments (EAs) assess participant skills and performance that are directly integrated and are indistinguishable from day-to-day activities. As such, EAs allow learners to demonstrate their science competencies through tasks that are integrated seamlessly into the learning experience itself. The CS field has a growing inventory of self-assessment tools, however, the evaluation of citizen science (and other informal science projects) using such subjective assessments can be remarkably improved when these are used in combination with objective measures of knowledge, skills or other resources participants gain through their participation. Science skills, such as data collection and analysis, are particularly important for CS projects because of their focus on the scientific process and their need for rigorous data collection. Despite the focus on skill gains, CS projects rarely measure such improvements. Embedded assessments (EAs) offer a critical method for understanding the impacts of these participatory learning environments. The project will develop and field test EAs on citizen science topics with an environmental science focus. It will also design training to support their use by individual projects. The project has three primary research foci: (1) identifying common and unique science inquiry skills targeted by CS projects, and how skills are currently being measured to document project impact; (2) identifying the opportunities and challenges present in developing and administering EA tools customized for CS projects to assess science inquiry skills; and (3) assessing whether EA tools created for a CS project can provide project leaders with a better understanding of their project's impact on participant science inquiry skills. The project will address these questions with a needs assessment of research and evaluation studies within the CS community and case studies to develop and test EAs customized for three identified and interested CS projects.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products

Poster - Embedded Assessment for Citizen Science (EA4CS)
Embedded Assessment as an Essential Method for Understanding Public Engagement in Citizen Science

Team Members

Cathlyn Merrit Davis, Author, University of Maryland
Karen Peterman, Co-Principal Investigator, Karen Peterman Consulting, Co.
Rachel Becker-Klein, Co-Principal Investigator, PEER Associates
Amy Grack Nelson, Contributor


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Award Number: 1422099
Funding Amount: 299957


Audience: Evaluators | Museum | ISE Professionals | Scientists
Discipline: Ecology | forestry | agriculture | Education and learning science | Life science
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Citizen Science Programs | Public Programs