Tallinn University (ESTONIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2020 Proceedings
Publication year: 2020
Pages: 111-119
ISBN: 978-84-09-17939-8
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2020.0075
Conference name: 14th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 2-4 March, 2020
Location: Valencia, Spain
Citizen science (CS) projects engage citizens into carrying out scientific investigation together with professional scientists. It fosters open science and gives opportunity to the citizens to develop their knowledge and skills, therefore, it could be beneficial for students in school to be involved in CS projects as well.

Four schools in Estonia received Globisens Labdiscs with sensor technology enabling to collect scientific data about different aspects of environment with the aim to use these in CS related projects. Different subject teachers in these schools participated in four training events provided by the university learning specialists where they learned how to use Globisens Labdiscs and conducted hands-on inquiry-based and CS related activities. Data was collected about teachers’ previous experiences of using sensors and inquiry-based approach in school. Their perceptions about the ability to use Globisens Labdiscs and their opinions about potential outcomes of using CS approach in school were also collected (modified CS Outcome Expectations Scale). Also, during the training events teachers developed teaching scenario ideas for Globisens Labdiscs.

The results indicated that 66.7% of the teachers had used inquiry-based approach in school before the training and after few training events this number grew up to 87%. Only 12.5% of the teachers had used sensors in their classes before, but this number grew up to 35% revealing that pure training did not motivate teachers sufficiently for the uptake of the new inquiry and CS learning approaches. During the training the teachers had mostly difficulties in technically using the Globisens Labdiscs and Globilab software that is used for visualizing and analysing the collected data. Also, initially it was difficult for the teachers to gather the data in a collective mode, orchestrating the data from different classes and schools to the same dataset, but it got easier after few training events. As potential outcomes of using CS in school, the teachers evaluated the highest that it improves students’ inquiry skills, helps them to understand the importance of the topic of the CS project in environment and help to understand how scientists do their work. However, when teachers developed teaching scenarios that use Globisens Labdiscs, their scenarios were mostly just hands-on or inquiry-based activities and just few teachers included CS related aspects.

The study shows that CS approach has a great potential for using in school, especially with sensors based learning tools that enable solving problems with open science approach. However, the challenge is that at the beginning it is difficult for teachers and students to use the new technology, and it takes time until they actually start using CS approach in their classes.
Citizen Science, Inquiry-based Learning, STEM Education, Technology-Enhanced Learning.