RCN-UBE: 3dNaturalists bioblitzes, citizen science, and undergraduate learning

  • Bowser, Gillian G. (PI)
  • Moore, John J.C. (CoPI)
  • Husic, Diane D.W. (CoPI)
  • Mourad, Teresa T.M. (CoPI)
  • Monfils, Anna (CoPI)

Grant Details


This RCN-UBE project seeks to bring together scholars and practitioners to explore big data initiatives at the intersections between citizen science, minority participation, student learning and protected areas management. The network will have three main activities: (1) interdisciplinary workshops that bring together practitioners, academics, agency managers and students; (2) student internships that provide introductory research experience for students using citizen science data and spatial and temporal datasets; and (3) collaborative assessments of student learning experiences. The network will focus on citizen science data collected for biodiversity questions--specifically species identification, species occurrence, and habitat parameters. The bioblitz activities, large public events focused on a 24 hour survey of biological diversity, are tools that engage citizens in science using inventories, smartphone apps, and other approaches. The addition of science parameters to the citizen science tool coupled with team learning activities engages students in both science and discovery. While an increasing number of studies focus on helping students decipher science, most assessment tools only indirectly measure student engagement and leadership in the sciences. The intellectual merit of this project is that it addresses the growing use of citizen science tools in the field and explores the potential for citizen science activities as new innovative approaches to engage underrepresented minority students in STEM especially using activities outside of the classroom and in the context of local communities. It is envisaged that these assessments will have both summative and formative applications to broadening participation in the environmental sciences.

The broader impacts of the project include the faculty who come from a variety of biology and social science sub-disciplines at different career levels and from a wide range of institutions. In addition, the participating students come from many different types of institutions including community colleges, minority serving institutions and undergraduate institutions. Both faculty and students reflect the growing diversity of the United States. Underrepresented minorities and especially students interested in connections to communities are selected as a part of a team that participates in the bioblitzes. Students act as both research assistants and citizen sciences during the bioblitz so they both learn the science and grow into leadership. As a key outcome, the common standards and assessments will be used across multiple institutions and disciplines of biology to determine how discovery experiences using citizen science and informal settings outside the classroom can engage students in STEM fields.

This project is being jointly funded by the Directorate for Biological Sciences and the Directorate for Education and Human Resources, Division of Undergraduate Education as part of their efforts to address the challenges posed in Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education: A Call to Action (http://visionandchange/finalreport/).

Effective start/end date09/1/1609/30/23


  • National Science Foundation: $596,098.00


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