Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Education, Teaching-Learning Processes

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Carl Hoagland


Carl Hoagland

Wolfgang Althof

Keith Miller

Tom Foster


With the continued emphasis in the United States on science teaching reform as a way to increase science learning and the scientific literacy of all, the integration of informal science learning activities like citizen science is emerging as a possible way to enhance formal science teaching and learning. There is a limited but growing number of studies indicating that the general public is learning science content and process from participating in citizen science, but research in this area is just beginning and the use of citizen science projects by teachers in formal classroom settings has barely been examined at all. This qualitative study examined three research questions: 1) What motivates experienced middle school science teachers to use citizen science programs in their classrooms? 2) What do experienced middle school science teachers perceive to be the impact on their students as a result of using citizen science in their classrooms? and 3) What do experienced middle school science teachers perceive as the challenges in using citizen science in their classrooms? Twenty-two middle school teachers from across the United States were interviewed about their motivations and expectations regarding their use of citizen science projects in their classrooms. Using a basic thematic analysis, responses from these semi-structured interviews were coded and themes were developed. Findings indicated that teachers use citizen science to engage their students in authentic science experiences that make a contribution to science and society. Also, teachers perceive that citizen science activities broaden students’ perspectives and build their agency to make a difference in their environment. Teachers perceived two main challenges with citizen science: making the task meaningful and ensuring that students experience the whole scientific process. This study makes a start at understanding why teachers use citizen science and how they perceive it to impact their students.