Using a Citizen Science Approach in Higher Education: A Case Study Reporting Roadkills in Austria - roadkill.at

Using a Citizen Science Approach in Higher Education: A Case Study Reporting Roadkills in Austria

BY: Human Computation Journal

We published our manuscript "Using a Citizen Science Approach in Higher Education: A Case Study Reporting Roadkills in Austria" von Florian Heigl und Johann Zaller; Fachzeitschrift Human Computation - Volume 1, Issue 2 (Citizen Science Special Issue); December 2014

Abstract:

Using a Citizen Science Approach in Higher Education: A Case Study Reporting Roadkills in Austria

FLORIAN HEIGL, Universität für Bodenkultur, Wien

JOHANN G. ZALLER, Universität für Bodenkultur, Wien

Citizen cyber-science as a crowdsourcing method is gaining popularity around the world especially in projects dealing with environmental issues. Many European universities are faced with increasing student numbers along with unchanged numbers of advising lecturers and professors. Thus, a challenge for natural science educators is to teach and transfer knowledge despite weak lecturer-to-student ratios. In search for a solution to this problem, we applied a citizen science crowdsourcing approach in an obligatory course of the Bachelor programme of Environment and Bio-Resources Management at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, Austria. The project, called BOKUroadkill, engaged students in reporting roadkilled animals they observed during their daily routine over a period of three months. Data collection was carried out via a freely available, customized mobile app (EpiCollect) that ran on students’ private devices or via an additional online reporting form for students without smartphones or tablets. After three months, 109 students reported 1,236 animals killed on roads, analysed roadkill patterns, and provided feedback on the project. Based on this feedback, we developed a new online platform extending the project for all citizens to participate (www.citizen- science.at/roadkill). Based on our experience with BOKUroadkill, we conclude that a citizen science approach in higher education is suitable for (1) courses with weak lecturer-to-student ratios, (2) addressing important elements of motivation for learners and (3) familiarizing students with scientific research. Our results indicate that citizen cyber-science projects can well be developed as student projects initially before extending the project to a broader public.

Citation:

Heigl, F., & Zaller, J. G. (2014). Using a Citizen Science Approach in Higher Education: a Case Study reporting Roadkills in Austria. Human Computation, 1(2).

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