Students appreciate taking part in urban rat research

A recent study done in Helsinki Urban Rat Project reveals how secondary school students learn while studying urban rat presence in Helsinki, Finland.

MSc student Suvi Huovelin interviewed secondary school students who participated in track plate citizen science project and the results of her research has now been published in  Environmental Education Research journal in an article "Combining formal education and citizen science: a case study on students’ perceptions of learning and interest in an urban rat project".

The students appreciated autonomy in doing research, involvement in science and freedom to choose where to study rats. Though students described negative attitudes towards rats, that didn't seem to be off-putting or prohibiting doing research, and some even acquired more positive attitudes toward rats! Specifically they were motivated in participating in "authentic" research and that they could study their own near-environments.

When students who had observed rat tracks in their own backyard were asked whether that led to any action, such as telling their parents about rat presence, or whether they reflected on if that should affect their use of urban spaces, they did not describe any actions that rat presence had evoked.  So, while students are interested in what happens in their near environment, they do not really seem to have a feeling of ownership in the urban spaces they use. 

Link to the publication in Environmental Education Research.