Students Learning About Science by Investigating an Unfolding Pandemic

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.

Matuk, C., Martin, R., Vasudevan, V., Burgas, K., Chaloner, K., Davidesco, I., Sadhukha, S., Shevchenko, Y., Bumbacher, E. & Dikker, S. (2021). Students learning about science by investigating an unfolding pandemic. AERA Open, 7(1), 1-19. DOI: 10.1177/23328584211054850