Citizen scientists and non-citizen scientist hobbyists: motivation, benefits, and influences

M. Gail Jones, Gina Childers, Thomas Andre, Elysa N. Corin, Rebecca Hite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Creating citizens interested in science and able to participate in science discourse and decisions is one of the goals of science education. Science hobbyists embody this goal through their life-long leisure interests and engagement in science. This study compared the motivations, perceived hobby benefits, and factors that influenced their hobby development for citizen-scientists and non-citizen scientists. A deeper understanding of factors that relate to involvement in both citizen science and science hobbies may inform efforts to encourage such participation. Data were collected through open-ended interviews with 107 amateur astronomer and birder hobbyists (67 citizen scientists and 40 non-citizen science participants) and an online survey. The results of the interviews informed the development of the online survey that was distributed nationally; participants included 2119 non-citizen scientists and 745 citizen scientists. Citizen scientists reported different hobby-related motivations, interests, and experiences than non-citizen science hobbyists. Male citizen scientists were more likely than male non-citizen scientists to report sharing information with others and educating youth as important motives to their hobby participation. As compared to non citizen-scientists, citizen scientists reported being more influenced in their hobby by formal and informal educational institutions, were more likely than non-citizen scientist hobbyists to report publishing articles for the public and using electronic media to communicate with other hobbyists. Citizen scientists reported improved science process skills and a better understanding of the nature of science. The implications of the results for a deeper understanding of what encourages individuals to participate in citizen science and science hobbies are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-306
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education, Part B: Communication and Public Engagement
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2018


  • Informal education
  • citizen science
  • motivation
  • out of school learning


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