Evaluation of a Virtual Citizen Science Facility: A Comprehensive Mixed-Methods Approach
The CosmoQuest Virtual Citizen Science Facility allows the public to participate in scientific research, learning opportunities, and community activities. Evaluation efforts include an online survey of users’ attitudes about and use of the CosmoQuest website and their motivations for participation. Pre/post-participation assessments examine learning of science content. Along with these quantitative assessments we seek a deeper level of understanding through qualitative methods. Formative and summative evaluations use semi-structured interviews and open-ended survey questions. Participant responses are analyzed using an iterative process of open coding, allowing patterns to emerge inductively from the data. Triangulation of data increases the validity of findings. This approach gives a more rigorous look at the motivations, behaviors, and
learning of participants, and a more complete and in-depth understanding of project impact.