Suzanne E. Hiller

Technological innovations have spurred an array of innovative educational opportunities for promoting STEM career motivation and achievement for adolescent students. Citizen science is one field which has proliferated with online platforms, sensors and probes, virtual reality, and the use of 3-D printers. Citizen science refers to when professional scientists seek the assistance from volunteers to participated in data collection as well as other elements of the research process for large scale studies, such as reef health.

Traditionally, the classification of citizen science programs centers on three forms: (a) contributory, (b) collaborative, and co-created. Contributory research is when a citizen scientist collects data for a professional study. In collaborative research, the volunteer engages in portions of research design and/or data analysis and interpretation. The third form, rarest for K-12 students, is when citizen scientists and professional scientists work jointly in all aspects of the research process from design to dissemination of findings. A burgeoning fourth type is known as student-directed citizen science wherein students create citizen science programs, often with initial exposure to one of the first three types.

Within the last two decades, as more educators incorporate citizen science activities as part of instruction, there has been a continuum of research on the impacts of this type of activity on student development. While initial studies focused on measuring content knowledge and environmental stewardship, more recently researchers have studied the positive impact on STEM identity formation; self-motivational beliefs, such as interest, self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and goal orientations, and achievement through citizen science programs for students in elementary, middle, secondary levels.

The current presentation provides an overview of research findings based on each type of citizen science programs in terms of STEM career motivation and achievement and outlines the development of a pilot study on a student directed citizen science program. The presentation concludes with explicit and effective suggestions for integrating citizen science activities within course work based on research findings and the use of new technology.

Keywords: Achievement, citizen science, motivation, STEM careers