The present report is concerned with assessments of three populations: students in grades K–12, their teachers, and the general public. The committee offers different recommendations for each group. Students, for example, can be tested in schools as part of the normal assessment routine, but members of the general public must be reached in other ways—through telephone polls, perhaps, or during visits to science museums. Recommendations also vary depending on the purpose of the assessment. A museum might want to assess what the general public knows and doesn’t know about technology in order to improve the design of its exhibits. A state department of education might want to assess the effectiveness of its K–12 technology program. A university school of education might want to assess whether its graduates are comfortable enough with technology to teach about it effectively.

Recommendations for approaches to assessments also take into account the three dimensions in the definition of technological literacy. Assessing technological knowledge requires different methods than assessing technological capabilities, which, in turn, is likely to require different approaches from those used to assess ways of critical thinking and decision making.

Assessing technological knowledge requires different methods than assessing technological capabilities.

Finally, we must take into account that technological literacy does not mean the same thing to all groups. Assessments for students, for instance, who are in the process of learning about technology, must be designed to determine if they are on track to learn everything they will need to know. By contrast, assessments of out-of-school adults must measure their current level of technological literacy, which may have been acquired from life experiences, work, and other sources, and must identify strengths and weaknesses. In other words, assessments for different populations and/or purposes necessarily emphasize different aspects of technological literacy.


AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science). 1990. Science for All Americans. New York: Oxford University Press.

AAAS. 1993. Benchmarks for Science Literacy. New York: Oxford University Press.

Dewey, J. 1910. How We Think. Lexington, Mass.: D.C. Heath.

Dewey, J. 1916. Essays in Experimental Logic. Chicago: University of Chicago.

ITEA (International Technology Education Association). 1996. Technology for All Americans: A Rationale and Structure for the Study of Technology. Reston, Va.: ITEA.

ITEA. 2000. Standards for Technological Literacy: Content for the Study of Technology. Reston, Va.: ITEA.

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