Some of the questions from the NSF survey are being added to the 2005/2006 General Social Survey (GSS), another longstanding project now administered biennially by the National Opinion Research Center; other items from the NSF survey have been used by the Survey Research Center of the University of Michigan and other public opinion research groups (J. Miller, director, Center for Biomedical Communications, Northwestern University, personal communication, September 12, 2005). The GSS survey focuses mostly on national spending priorities, drinking behavior, marijuana use, crime and punishment, race relations, quality of life, confidence in institutions, and membership in voluntary associations (NORC, 2005). However, the survey periodically includes modules on new topics funded by outside sources, usually foundations or government agencies.
The National Household Education Surveys (NHES) Program, conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, provides descriptive data on the educational activities of U.S. adults, children, and families. NHES, like GSS, also occasionally conducts one-time special studies. Since its inception in 1991, NHES has conducted three special studies, on civic involvement, household library use, and school safety and discipline (NCES, 2005).
Through the National Adult Literacy Survey, the United States assesses traditional literacy (i.e., written and spoken language competency) in adults. In the 1990s, the U.S. Department of Education, Educational Testing Service, and WestEd (a regional educational laboratory) participated in two International Adult Literacy Surveys (IALS), which surveyed prose and document literacy, as well as quantitative literacy. More recently, the United States and several other countries developed and administered a revamped international literacy assessment called the Adult Literacy and Lifeskills (ALL) Survey. Like IALS, ALL focuses on prose and document literacy, but also redefines quantitative literacy as numeracy, implying a broader range of activities, some of which might be relevant to assessing technological literacy (Lemke, 2004).
In addition, ALL measures a cross-curricular area of competency related to problem solving (OECD and Statistics Canada, 2005). The ITEA Standards for Technological Literacy suggest that all students should be familiar with problem solving, a distinguishing feature of the technological design process. Technological problem solving in adults might be manifested in concrete ways (e.g., determining possible reasons a flashlight