On2Science - Multiple affordances for learning through participation in online citizen science

Funding year: 
4 years
Victoria University of Wellington
School sector
Project start date: 
January 2020
Project end date: 
February 2024
Principal investigator(s): 
Dr. Cathal Doyle and Dr Cathy Buntting
Research team members: 
Dr Dayle Anderson, Associate Professor Azra Moeed, Cameron Pierson and Yevgeniya Li (Victoria University of Wellington); Brigitte Glasson (Independent Science Education Consultant)
Research partners: 
Koraunui School, Muritai School, Hapmpton Hill School, Thorndon School, South Wellington Intermediate School, Avalon Intermediate School, Newlands College, NZCER, University of Waikato.


Introduction/project description

This 3-year study builds on a 2018 TLRI pilot project that demonstrated the affordances of embedding online citizen science (OCS) projects in primary school science. This study will extend the pilot by

  1. mapping progressions in students’ science capability development across NZC Levels 2-4,
  2. dentifying affordances of OCS engagement for developing students’ digital technologies progress outcomes, and
  3. investigating the impacts of teacher practices in relation to human-computer interactions. 


This project seeks to answer the following research questions:

  1. What indicators of progression in students’ development of science capabilities for citizenship (SC) can be identified by tracking student cohorts engaging in online citizen science (OCS) over successive years?
  2. How does participating in online citizen science (OCS) projects contribute to NZC’s digital technology (DT) learning outcomes?
  3. Regarding human-computer interaction (HCI), what influences teachers’ practices when students use devices, and what is the impact of these practices?

The project outcomes have potential to contribute significantly to both the science and technology education research landscape, and to primary and junior secondary teacher practice in science and digital technologies. 

Why is this research important?

This project’s research questions extend the findings of the 2018 TLRI pilot project; build on recent work by the Ministry of Education to identify progress indicators for the science capabilities at Levels 2 and 4 using the National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement (NMSSA); and align with the introduction of the digital technologies curriculum, contributing to the emerging dataset showcasing teacher practices and student outcomes. Insights into pedagogical decisions about HCI also have potential to impact understanding of learning affordances across the curriculum.

What we plan to do

The research will adopt an interpretive case study approach. Each year, each of the participating teachers will plan and implement one intervention in which they embed an online citizen science project into their classroom teaching and learning each year. These interventions will form individual cases. Cross-case analysis carried out by the researcher-teacher team will draw out common and unique aspects of the cases. Data sources will include teacher planning documents, classroom observations, teacher and student interviews, and samples of student work. 

The 3-year timeframe will enable deeper theorisation of progress development as students progress through schooling, while also giving participants time to develop the capabilities required to engage deeply in the three research questions. Although these questions are interwoven, they nonetheless address very different teacher professional knowledge, across curriculum areas (science and digital technology) and pedagogies (HCI impacts). 

Our partners

Our research partnership involves seven teachers across the primary, intermediate and secondary sector in the Wellington region: Dianne Christenson (Koraunui School), Melissa Coton (Muritai School), Carol Brieseman (Hampton Hill School), Matt Boucher (Thorndon School), Paul Cooper (South Wellington Intermediate School), Rose Campbell (Avalon Intermediate School), and Richie Miller (Newlands College).
We have a research advisory panel of experts, including Associate Professor Markus Luczak-Roesch (Victoria University of Wellington), Dr Rose Hipkins (NZCER), and Stephen Ross (University of Waikato).

Contact Details 

Dr Cathal Doyle
Address:  Room 407, Rutherford House 23 Lambton Quay, Wellington, 6011
Email: cathal.doyle@vuw.ac.nz
Phone: 04 4635015