does not work or a car does not start or a door sticks after heavy rain and then figuring out how to correct the problem).

Another consideration in assessing or surveying adults is defining the target population (e.g., technology consumers, people attentive to public policy, or the general population) and defining an appropriate purpose for an assessment of each (see Case 4 in Chapter 6). Technology consumers, for instance, may include adults and adolescents, who are major purchasers of technological products and services. Periodic surveys of consumers conducted by the University of Michigan Survey Research Center measure consumer understanding of selected technologies.


Recommendation 6. The International Technology Education Association should continue to conduct a poll on technological literacy every several years, adding items that address the three dimensions of technological literacy, in order to build a database that reflects changes over time in adult knowledge of and attitudes toward technology. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education, working with its international partners, should expand the problem-solving component of the Adult Literacy and Lifeskills Survey to include items relevant to the assessment of technological literacy. These items should be designed to gauge participants’ general problem-solving capabilities in the context of familiar, relevant situations. Agencies that could benefit by knowing more about adult understanding of technology, such as the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Defense, and National Institutes of Health, should consider funding projects to develop and conduct studies of technological literacy. Finally, opportunities for integrating relevant knowledge and attitude measures into existing studies, such as the General Social Survey, the National Household Education Survey, and Surveys of Consumers, should be pursued.

Research on Learning

The research base on how people learn about technology is relatively immature.

Based on a review of committee-commissioned surveys of the literature on learning related to technology (Petrina et al., 2004) and engineering (Waller, 2004), as well as the expert judgments of committee members, the committee finds that the research base on how people learn about technology, engineering, design, and related ideas is relatively immature. Most of the research—particularly related to engineering—relates



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