Open science in the classroom: students designing and peer reviewing studies in human brain and behavior research

Camillia Matuk, Lucy Yetman-Michaelson, Rebecca Martin, Veena Vasudevan, Kim Burgas, Ido Davidesco, Yury Shevchenko, Kim Chaloner, Suzanne Dikker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Citizen science programs offer opportunities for K-12 students to engage in authentic science inquiry. However, these programs often fall short of including learners as agents in the entire process, and thus contrast with the growing open science movement within scientific communities. Notably, study ideation and peer review, which are central to the making of science, are typically reserved for professional scientists. This study describes the implementation of an open science curriculum that engages high school students in a full cycle of scientific inquiry. We explored the focus and quality of students’ study designs and peer reviews, and their perceptions of open science based on their participation in the program. Specifically, we implemented a human brain and behavior citizen science unit in 6 classrooms across 3 high schools. After learning about open science and citizen science, students (N = 104) participated in scientist-initiated research studies, and then collaboratively proposed their own studies to investigate personally interesting questions about human behavior and the brain. Students then peer reviewed proposals of students from other schools. Based on a qualitative and quantitative analysis of students’ artifacts created in-unit and on a pre and posttest, we describe their interests, abilities, and self-reported experiences with study design and peer review. Our findings suggest that participation in open science in a human brain and behavior research context can engage students with critical aspects of experiment design, as well as with issues that are unique to human subjects research, such as research ethics. Meanwhile, the quality of students’ study designs and reviews changed in notable, but mixed, ways: While students improved in justifying the importance of research studies, they did not improve in their abilities to align methods to their research questions. In terms of peer review, students generally reported that their peers' feedback was helpful, but our analysis showed that student reviewers struggled to articulate concrete recommendations for improvement. In light of these findings, we discuss the need for curricula that support the development of research and review abilities by building on students’ interests, while also guiding students in transferring these abilities across a range of research foci.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)793-845
Number of pages53
JournalInstructional Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2023


  • Citizen science
  • Classrooms
  • Experiment design
  • Open science
  • Peer review
  • Scientific literacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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