The Open UniversitySkip to content

Designing citizen science tools for learning: lessons learnt from the iterative development of nQuire

Herodotou, Christothea; Aristeidou, Maria; Sharples, Mike and Scanlon, Eileen (2018). Designing citizen science tools for learning: lessons learnt from the iterative development of nQuire. Research and Practice in Technology Enhanced Learning, 13(4)

Full text available as:
PDF (Version of Record) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (2MB) | Preview
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


This paper reports on a 4-year research and development case study about the design of citizen science tools for inquiry learning. It details the process of iterative pedagogy-led design and evaluation of the nQuire toolkit, a set of web-based and mobile tools scaffolding the creation of online citizen science investigations. The design involved an expert review of inquiry learning and citizen science, combined with user experience studies involving more than 200 users. These have informed a concept that we have termed ‘citizen inquiry’, which engages members of the public alongside scientists in setting up, running, managing or contributing to citizen science projects with a main aim of learning about the scientific method through doing science by interaction with others. A design-based research (DBR) methodology was adopted for the iterative design and evaluation of citizen science tools. DBR was focused on the refinement of a central concept, ‘citizen inquiry’, by exploring how it can be instantiated in educational technologies and interventions. The empirical evaluation and iteration of technologies involved three design experiments with end users, user interviews, and insights from pedagogy and user experience experts. Evidence from the iterative development of nQuire led to the production of a set of interaction design principles that aim to guide the development of online, learning-centred, citizen science projects. Eight design guidelines are proposed: users as producers of knowledge, topics before tools, mobile affordances, scaffolds to the process of scientific inquiry, learning by doing as key message, being part of a community as key message, every visit brings a reward, and value users and their time.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2018 The Authors
ISSN: 1793-7078
Extra Information: 23 pp.
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS)
Item ID: 55067
Depositing User: Christothea Herodotou
Date Deposited: 21 May 2018 09:30
Last Modified: 10 May 2019 13:53
Share this page:


Altmetrics from Altmetric

Citations from Dimensions

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU