Improving attitudes and knowledge in a citizen science project about urban bat ecology

authored by
Hannah Greving, Till Bruckermann, Anke Schumann, Tanja Straka, Daniel Lewanzik, Silke Voigt-Heucke, Lara Marggraf, Julia Lorenz, Miriam Brandt, Christian C. Voigt, Ute Harms, Joachim Kimmerle

In order to deal with the current, dramatic decline in biodiversity, the public at large needs to be aware of and participate in biodiversity research activities. One way to do this is citizen science projects, in which researchers collaborate with volunteering citizens in scientific research. However, it remains unclear whether engaging in such projects has an impact on the learning outcomes of volunteers. Previous research has so far presented mixed results on the improvement of citizens’ attitudes and knowledge, mostly because such research has focused only on single aspects of citizen science projects in case studies. To address these limitations, we investigated the impact of an urban bat ecology project on citizens’ attitudes and knowledge about bats, and on their engagement with citizen science. We also examined whether the degree of citizen participation (i.e., collecting data vs. collecting and analyzing data) had an influence on the outcomes. We conducted four field studies and used a survey-based, experimental, pre-/post-measurement design. To vary the degree of participation, we assessed the post measurement in one group directly after data collection, whereas, in a second group, we assessed it after data collection and analysis, at the end of the project. Across all studies, the results demonstrated that citizens’ content knowledge of urban bat ecology increased, and their attitudes toward bats and toward their engagement in citizen science improved during their participation. Citizens’ degrees of participation did not influence these outcomes. Thus, our research illustrates that citizen science can increase awareness of urban bat conservation, independently of citizens’ degree of participation. We discuss the implications of our findings for the citizen science community.

Institute of Education
External Organisation(s)
IPN - Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education at Kiel University
Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien (IWM)
University of Tübingen
Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW)
Technische Universität Berlin
Museum für Naturkunde - Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science (MfN)
Ecology and Society
Publication date
Publication status
Peer reviewed
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Sustainable Development Goals
SDG 15 - Life on Land, SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
Electronic version(s) (Access: Open)