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Peer-reviewed article

Shifting forms of Engagement: Volunteer Learning in Online Citizen Science

May 1, 2020 | Media and Technology, Public Programs

Peer production projects involve people in many tasks, from editing articles to analyzing datasets. To facilitate mastery of these practices, projects offer a number of learning resources, ranging from project-defined FAQsto individually-oriented search tools and communal discussion boards. However, it is not clear which project resources best support participant learning, overall and at different stages of engagement. We draw on Sørensen's framework of forms of presence to distinguish three types of engagement with learning resources: authoritative, agent-centered and communal. We assigned resources from the Gravity Spy citizen-science into these three categories and analyzed trace data recording interactions with resources using a mixed-effects logistic regression with volunteer performance as an outcome variable. The findings suggest that engagement with authoritative resources (e.g., those constructed by project organizers) facilitates performance initially. However, as tasks become more difficult, volunteers seek and benefit from engagement with their own agent-centered resources and community-generated resources. These findings suggest a broader scope for the design of learning resources for peer production


  • Corey Brian Jackson
    University of California, Berkeley
  • Carsten Osterlund
    Syracuse University
  • Kevin Crowston
    Syracuse University
  • Mahboobeh Harandi
    Syracuse University
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    Adler Planetarium
  • Citation

    DOI :
    Publication Name: Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
    Volume: 4
    Number: CSCW1
    Resource Type: Research Products
    Discipline: Physics | Space science
    Audience: General Public | Scientists | Learning Researchers
    Environment Type: Media and Technology | Websites, Mobile Apps, and Online Media | Public Programs | Citizen Science Programs
    Access and Inclusion: Women and Girls

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