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Public Engagement Technology for Bioacoustic Citizen Science



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Herman, Isak 


Inexpensive mobile devices offer new capabilities for non-specialist use in the field for the purpose of conservation. This thesis explores the potential for such devices to be used by citizen scientists interacting with bioacoustic data such as birdsong. This thesis describes design research and field evaluation, in collaboration with conservationists and educators, and technological artefacts implemented as mobile applications for interactive educational gaming and creative composition. This thesis considers, from a participant-centric collaborative design approach, conservationists' demand for interactive artefacts to motivate engagement in citizen science through gameful and playful interactions. Drawing on theories of motivation, frequently applied to the study of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), and on approaches to designing for motivational engagement, this thesis introduces a novel pair of frameworks for the analysis of technological artefacts and for assessing participant engagement with bioacoustic citizen science from both game interaction design and citizen science project participation perspectives. This thesis reviews current theories of playful and gameful interaction developed for collaborative learning, data analysis, and ground-truth development, describes a process for design and analysis of motivational mobile games and toys, and explores the affordances of various game elements and mechanics for engaging participation in bioacoustic citizen science. This thesis proposes research into progressions for scaffolding engagement with citizen science projects where participants interact with data collection and analysis artefacts. The research process includes the development of multiple designs, analyses of which explore the efficacy of game interactions to motivate engagement through interaction progressions, given proposed analysis frameworks. This thesis presents analysed results of experiments examining the usability of, and data-quality from, several prototypes and software artefacts, in both laboratory conditions and the field. This thesis culminates with an assessment of the efficacy of proposed design analysis frameworks, an analysis of designed artefacts, and a discussion of how these designs increase intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for participant engagement and affect resultant bioacoustic citizen science data quantity and quality.





Blackwell, Alan
Sandbrook, Chris


Human-Computer Interaction, Bioacoustics, Citizen Science, Gamification, Public Engagement Technology, User-Centric Design


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge