April 11-14, 2007
San Francisco, California

Sessions: Abstract

Evaluating the Impact of Participation in an On-line Citizen Science Project: A mixed methods approach   go to paper

Rick Bonney, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, USA
Stephanie Thompson, Seavoss Associates, USA

eBird is an ongoing project that aims to document bird distribution and abundance in North America. The project allows participants to report any bird they see using one of several data-collecting protocols. Participants and other visitors to the site also view and manipulate data submitted to the eBird database to answer their own questions about bird distribution and abundance. Responses to these visitor queries can be viewed in the form of graphs and histograms as well as on maps. We were interested in learning about how eBird participants use these data tools, and how participating in the project might affect their thinking about the concept of conservation. The eBird New User Survey employed standard survey questions combined with exploration of live data and an on-line version of the Personal Meaning Mapping (PMM) technique to address these questions. Nearly ninety percent of eBird participants used the data tools to answer at least one type of question, and most participants used the tools in multiple ways.

Participant understanding of the resulting data varied. Most understood how to use map and frequency data; however, many were confused by other data types available. The on-line PMM protocol generated extremely rich data to which a typical coding framework could be successfully applied; however, respondents were unlikely to make changes to their PMM statements, making it difficult to assess changes in perspectives on conservation related to participation in the eBird project

Session: Evaluation I [Users]

Keywords: evaluation, personal meaning mapping, citizen science, visitor learning, surveys