The Eyewitness Community Survey: An Engaging Citizen Science Tool to Capture Reliable Data while Improving Community Participants’ Environmental Health Knowledge and Attitudes

Paper by Melinda Butsch Kovacic: “Many youths and young adults have variable environmental health knowledge, limited understanding of their local environment’s impact on their health, and poor environmentally friendly behaviors. We sought to develop and test a tool to reliably capture data, increase environmental health knowledge, and engage youths as citizen scientists to examine and take action on their community’s challenges. The Eyewitness Community Survey (ECS) was developed through several iterations of co-design. Herein, we tested its performance. In Phase I, seven youths audited five 360° photographs. In Phase II, 27 participants works as pairs/trios and audited five locations, typically 7 days apart. Inter-rater and intra-rater reliability were determined. Changes in participants’ knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, and self-efficacy were surveyed. Feedback was obtained via focus groups. Intra-rater reliability was in the substantial/near-perfect range, with Phase II having greater consistency. Inter-rater reliability was high, with 42% and 63% of Phase I and II Kappa, respectively, in the substantial/near-perfect range. Knowledge scores improved after making observations (p ≤ 0.032). Participants (85%) reported the tool to be easy/very easy to use, with 70% willing to use it again. Thus, the ECS is a mutually beneficial citizen science tool that rigorously captures environmental data and provides engaging experiential learning opportunities…(More)”.