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Considering external resource use in forum discussions as an indicator of citizen scientist learning

Konferensbidrag (offentliggjort, men ej förlagsutgivet)
Författare Thomas Hillman
Åsa Mäkitalo
Publicerad i European Citizen Science Association Conference
Publiceringsår 2016
Publicerad vid Linnécentret for forskning om lärande (LinCS)
Institutionen för pedagogik, kommunikation och lärande
Språk en
Ämnesord Citizen science, resources, learning, participation
Ämneskategorier Pedagogik

Sammanfattning

In this presentation, we address the challenge of identifying learning in citizen science projects by examining the activity of volunteer participants in Galaxy Zoo. This project represents a style of citizen science where participants classify images using a simple protocol. Since this activity has limited interactional possibilities, it is difficult to identify learning by examining it. Instead, we examine interactions on an online forum formed in relation to the classification activity. Working from the Vygotskian (1978) notion that learning is a process of appropriating cultural tools, we examined the use of online resources external to Galaxy Zoo in forum posts over time. Using over 30,000 posts, we plotted external resource use trajectories for participants with more than 50 posts. Based on date of first post, we examined the trajectories of new participants in relation to those of already established members. For new participants, already active amateur astronomers could be discerned from those with little experience. This distinction was confirmed through the posts that new participants make where they often provide self-evaluations. The trajectories of active astronomer new participants tend to exhibit heavy use of external resources in early posts followed by a reduction. Those of non-astronomer new participants who later become established members tend to exhibit a gradual increase. When examining the external resource use of non-astronomer new participants in the context of the forum threads in which they are posted, shifts in type and usage along the trajectories are also discernable. Shifts in the type of resources from popular media to scientific are visible along with shifts in usage from asking for guidance and curating online content to formulating arguments and guiding other members. Such shifts in type and usage combined with rising trajectories of use indicate the appropriation of cultural tools and the development of astronomy literacy.

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