Students Learning About Science by Investigating an Unfolding Pandemic

Camillia Matuk, Rebecca Martin, Veena Vasudevan, Kim Burgas, Kim Chaloner, Ido Davidesco, Sushmita Sadhukha, Yury Shevchenko, Engin Bumbacher, Suzanne Dikker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We explored the COVID-19 pandemic as a context for learning about the role of science in a global health crisis. In spring 2020, at the beginning of the first pandemic-related lockdown, we worked with a high school teacher to design and implement a unit on human brain and behavior science. The unit guided her 17 students in creating studies that explored personally relevant questions about the pandemic to contribute to a citizen science platform. Pre-/postsurveys, student artifacts, and student and teacher interviews showed increases in students’ fascination with science—a driver of engagement and career preference—and sense of agency as citizen scientists. Students approached science as a tool for addressing their pandemic-related concerns but were hampered by the challenges of remote schooling. These findings highlight both the opportunities of learning from a global crisis, and the need to consider how that crisis is still affecting learners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAERA Open
StatePublished - 2021


  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • citizen science
  • classroom research
  • online learning
  • psychology education
  • science education
  • secondary education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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