CROSS-NATIONAL STUDIES OF ADULT UNDERSTANDING OF SCIENCE

International Organization

Chicago Academy of Sciences

Years of Data Collection

NSF-NIH national survey of U.S. public understanding of science: 1992 and 1994

Co-ordinated cross-national data sets at International Center: ongoing

Data set archives cooperative arrangements: ongoing

Purpose The Chicago Academy of Sciences International Center for the Advancement of Scientific Literacy has been selected by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health to design and conduct national surveys of the United States in 1992 and 1994 concerning the public understanding of science. The International Center developed one questionnaire to continue trend measures and a second questionnaire to measure the public understanding of biomedical and behavioral science concepts. In both of these studies, attention is being focused on both the preservation of trend measures within the United States and the establishment and continuation of comparative international indicators of the public understanding of science.

The International Center provides a point of coordination for and dissemination of cross-national study data, as well as an active research program and a comprehensive archive of data sets relevant to student and adult learning about science, mathematics, and technology. Center director Jon Miller believes that the interface between the two population segment data sets is extremely important, that the education of young people begins to play out in adult behaviors and adult choices.

Over the last several decades, the influence of science and technology on the lives of citizens and consumers has become apparent. The number of public policy issues involving some aspect of science or technology has been increasing sharply over recent decades, and there is every reason to believe that it will continue to increase at an accelerating rate in the 21st century. In the next century citizens will need to be significantly better informed about scientific and technological concepts in order to fulfill roles in government, the marketplace, communication, and transportation. Governments in most industrialized nations are making concerted efforts to address the issue of pervasive scientific illiteracy.

One of the difficulties that all of the governments and organizations who are working in this field face is the absence of a point of focus and coordination for these efforts, especially a point of coordination that brings together the ideas and experiences of researchers and educators from countries around the world. While there are important differences in the educational systems of various countries, there are also commonalities. There are more areas in which researchers and educators can cooperate and learn from each other than there are areas of unique differences that would make cross-national comparisons inapplicable.

In response to a consensus among scholars and educators who have been working in this field, the International Center for the Advancement of Scientific Literacy was established at the Chicago Academy of Sciences in 1991. To provide a continuing linkage with working scholars and policy makers who utilize studies of scientific literacy, the International Center has formed an International Program Council. Through an annual meeting of the International Program Council and periodic consultations throughout the year, the Council provides continuing program guidance and assures both the international character of the programs of the Center and the utility and quality of its programs and products.



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International Comparative Studies in Education: Descriptions of Selected Large-Scale Assessments and Case Studies CROSS-NATIONAL STUDIES OF ADULT UNDERSTANDING OF SCIENCE International Organization Chicago Academy of Sciences Years of Data Collection NSF-NIH national survey of U.S. public understanding of science: 1992 and 1994 Co-ordinated cross-national data sets at International Center: ongoing Data set archives cooperative arrangements: ongoing Purpose The Chicago Academy of Sciences International Center for the Advancement of Scientific Literacy has been selected by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health to design and conduct national surveys of the United States in 1992 and 1994 concerning the public understanding of science. The International Center developed one questionnaire to continue trend measures and a second questionnaire to measure the public understanding of biomedical and behavioral science concepts. In both of these studies, attention is being focused on both the preservation of trend measures within the United States and the establishment and continuation of comparative international indicators of the public understanding of science. The International Center provides a point of coordination for and dissemination of cross-national study data, as well as an active research program and a comprehensive archive of data sets relevant to student and adult learning about science, mathematics, and technology. Center director Jon Miller believes that the interface between the two population segment data sets is extremely important, that the education of young people begins to play out in adult behaviors and adult choices. Over the last several decades, the influence of science and technology on the lives of citizens and consumers has become apparent. The number of public policy issues involving some aspect of science or technology has been increasing sharply over recent decades, and there is every reason to believe that it will continue to increase at an accelerating rate in the 21st century. In the next century citizens will need to be significantly better informed about scientific and technological concepts in order to fulfill roles in government, the marketplace, communication, and transportation. Governments in most industrialized nations are making concerted efforts to address the issue of pervasive scientific illiteracy. One of the difficulties that all of the governments and organizations who are working in this field face is the absence of a point of focus and coordination for these efforts, especially a point of coordination that brings together the ideas and experiences of researchers and educators from countries around the world. While there are important differences in the educational systems of various countries, there are also commonalities. There are more areas in which researchers and educators can cooperate and learn from each other than there are areas of unique differences that would make cross-national comparisons inapplicable. In response to a consensus among scholars and educators who have been working in this field, the International Center for the Advancement of Scientific Literacy was established at the Chicago Academy of Sciences in 1991. To provide a continuing linkage with working scholars and policy makers who utilize studies of scientific literacy, the International Center has formed an International Program Council. Through an annual meeting of the International Program Council and periodic consultations throughout the year, the Council provides continuing program guidance and assures both the international character of the programs of the Center and the utility and quality of its programs and products.

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International Comparative Studies in Education: Descriptions of Selected Large-Scale Assessments and Case Studies The primary program focus of the International Center is the conduct and coordination of cross-national research regarding the development and maintenance of scientific literacy. To date, the most extensive work in this area has been done in the United States. There is emerging a strong interest on this topic in Europe, Japan, and other countries. In regard to school-aged populations, the International Center will serve as the design and analysis center for the Longitudinal Study of American Youth. This national study of the development of attitudes toward and competence in science and mathematics among middle school and high school student populations is being conducted primarily in the International Center to utilize more fully comparable national and international data sets and staff familiar with other educational systems. Parallel to the conduct of new research, a second major research focus of the International Center is the development of a research archive of data being collected about the public understanding of and attitudes toward science and technology in countries throughout the world. About 60 percent of the known national studies of scientific literacy among adults, but significantly fewer of the studies concerning the development of an interest in and knowledge of science and mathematics during the pre-adult years have been collected. The International Center has begun to make these materials available for use by interested scholars and analysts. In addition to providing data access, the International Center seeks to become a place that scholars and students can visit in order to learn more about these materials and to conduct research on them. To provide a forum for the exchange of research and the sharing of ideas, the International Center sponsors an annual research conference. The first meeting was held in 1992 in Tokyo and was jointly sponsored by the Japan Science Foundation, the National Institute of Science and Technology Policy (Japan), and the National Institute of Educational Research (Japan). In 1993, the International Center hosted an International Conference on the Public Understanding of Science and Technology. The conference attracted more than 155 participants from 22 countries. Prior to the 1993 International Conference, the International Center conducted a two-day workshop on structural equation modeling. A second major program focus of the International Center is the development of scientific literacy during the common school years. While there are several other centers that focus on important parts of science and mathematics education, most of the existing centers are more interested in the education of future scientists, mathematicians, and engineers than they are in the development of scientific literacy among citizens who will not work professionally in science or technology. The International Center focuses on the design and implementation of curricula and programs to serve the needs of young people who will be citizens of an increasingly scientific and technological world but who will not be professional scientists. A third major program focus of the International Center is the communication and dissemination of scientific information to broader adult audiences, often referred to as information science education. Over the course of the last two decades, there has been a substantial growth in the communication of scientific information to adult populations in the United States and other industrial countries through the expansion of science and technology museum programs, natural history museum programs, zoos and aquaria, and through the growth of science television and science magazines. There is a good deal to be learned from the experiences of each nation in this regard, and many science communicators are particularly eager to share their own experiences and learn about the work that is occurring in other nations. While each informal education channel has its own professional

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International Comparative Studies in Education: Descriptions of Selected Large-Scale Assessments and Case Studies organizations, many scholars in the field and practicing professionals have indicated that it would be useful to have a periodic international meeting to bring together the different parts of the informal science education chain, thus achieving greater cooperation and greater impact. The International Center will establish an exploratory planning committee in this area and examine the needs and potential benefits of an international meeting in this area. The International Center will continue to collect relevant data for its archive and relevant publications for its library. Organization and Management Co-ordinated cross-national data sets: To coordinate the design of questionnaires and the definition of terms and constructs in the emerging set of cross-national studies and to foster an annual discussion among the principal data collectors, the International Council for the Comparative Study of the Public Understanding of Science and Technology was formed and has held its meetings in London (1990), Tokyo (1992), and Chicago (1993). The Council is comprised of two representatives from each active data collecting country. The Council has been a useful forum for discussing problems or getting to know the other people active in this field. The 1993 meeting in Chicago focused on two substantive problems. The Chicago Academy of Sciences director, Jon Miller, was active in forming the Council and continues to participate in it. Recognizing the inherent limitations of the Council structure, an International Center for the Advancement of Scientific Literacy was created at the Chicago Academy of Sciences. The International Center provides a point of coordination and dissemination that has a central staff, an active research program, and a comprehensive archive of data sets relevant to student and adult learning about science, mathematics, and technology. To create an environment for a more substantive discussion of the measurement of the public understanding of science and technology, the Chicago Academy of Sciences and the London Science Museum have agreed to sponsor an annual international research conference. The first conference was held in Tokyo (1992); the second in Chicago (1993). The 1994 conference will be held in London, and the 1995 conference in Beijing (in cooperation with the China Association for Science and Technology). Miller believes that a conference setting with formal papers and opportunities for dialogue will improve the quality of coordination. The meetings of the International Council have now been linked to these research conferences. Data set archives cooperative arrangements: To provide for improved data sharing, the International Center has created an archive of data sets. The archive is available to interested scholars for short-term visits, longer-term visiting scholar appointments, and for the distribution of data sets by tape or wire. The archive presently holds approximately 150 data sets and has identified an additional 100 data sets for acquisition over the next two years. The International Center is a member of the ICPSR and has established cooperative arrangements with the ESRC Archive (U.K.), the Steinmetz Archive (Netherlands), the Central German Archive (Koln), the Danish Archive (Odense), and the Swedish Archive (Gothenberg). The International Center is presently seeking corporate and government support for the expansion of the International Center archive and the support of visiting scholars.

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International Comparative Studies in Education: Descriptions of Selected Large-Scale Assessments and Case Studies Design Participants NSF-NIH national survey of U.S. public understanding of science: 1992 and 1994: International Center conducted the study with the U.S. public. Co-ordinated cross-national study data sets in International Center: Britain, Bulgaria, Canada, China, European Community, Japan, Spain, New Zealand, United States Data set archives cooperative arrangements: ESRC (United Kingdom), Steinmetz (Netherlands), Central German Archive, Danish, Swedish Procedures and Summary of Content Co-ordinated cross-national study data sets in International Center: The coordinated cross-national study of the public understanding of science and technology at the national level is a relatively recent phenomenon, beginning with a joint study between the United States and Britain in 1988. The origin of this work comes from the National Science Board. Beginning in 1972 and continuing biennially the NSB has published Science and Engineering Indicators that includes a chapter on the public understanding of science and technology. The data for the 1972, 1974, and 1976 reports were collected by adding 20 questions to an omnibus survey conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation; since 1979 the National Science Foundation has sponsored a national probability sample study devoted to measuring the public understanding of science and technology. For the 1979 study in-person interviews were conducted by the Institute for Survey Research at Temple University. Within the past several years the United Kingdom, the European Community, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, China, Spain, and Bulgaria have conducted similar surveys; Korea, Belgium, and Germany are also planning surveys. While the United States has a 20-year time series, only the European Community has successfully completed a second cycle of data collection to date. There are two continuing efforts to coordinate the design and collection of these cross-national studies and to disseminate the resulting data sets. Data Collection and Analyses Co-ordinated cross-national study data sets in International Center: The International Center has a small but growing set of studies and data sets, and an expanding network of data collectors and analysts in an increasing number of countries. It has taken some initial steps to improve coordination and dissemination. The current inventory of cross-national studies and data sets is as follows:

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International Comparative Studies in Education: Descriptions of Selected Large-Scale Assessments and Case Studies National Studies of the Public Understanding of Science and Technology Year Country Principal Investigator N RA DA 1957 US Davis, Robert 1,999 Y Y 1972 US NSB 1,500 Y Y 1974 US NSB 1,500 Y Y 1976 US NSB 1,500 Y Y 1979 US Prewitt, K. and Miller, J. 1,500 Y Y 1981 US Miller, J. 3,200 Y Y 1983 US Miller, J. 2,000 Y Y 1985 US Miller, J. 2,000 Y Y 1988 US Miller, J. 2,000 Y Y 1988 Britain Thomas, G. and Durant, J. 2,000 N Y 1989 EC Gabolde, J. 12,000 N Y 1989 Canada Einsiedel 2,000 Y Y 1990 US Miller, J. 2,000 Y Y 1990 New Zealand Billingham, G. 2,000 Y N 1991 Japan Nagahama, H. 1,500 Y Y 1992 China Liu, W. 5,000 Y * 1992 EC Gabolde, J. 13,000 N * 1992 Spain Pardo, S. ? N N 1992 Bulgaria Unknown ? N N 1992 US Miller, J. 2,000 I I 1992 US Miller, J. 3,200 I I Legend: N = Number of cases   RA = Report available   DA = Data available   I = In process   * = Expect to receive summer 1993   NSB = National Science Board

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International Comparative Studies in Education: Descriptions of Selected Large-Scale Assessments and Case Studies Timetable 1994: NSF-NIH national survey of U.S. public understanding of science: Data was colleted. 1994: The International Center for the Advancement of Scientific Literacy-London Science Museum convened an international research conference in London. The International Center for the Advancement of Scientific Literacy-International Council for the Comparative Study of the Public Understanding of Science and Technology met. 1995: The International Center for the Advancement of Scientific Literacy-London Science Museum convened an international research conference in Beijing. Funding National survey of U.S. public understanding of science: The National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health provide funding. Information Sources Jon D. Miller, Vice President The Chicago Academy of Sciences 2001 North Clark Street Chicago, Illinois 60614 telephone: 312/549-0606 facsimile: 312/549-5199 The Chicago Academy of Sciences 1993 The International Center for the Advancement of Scientific Literacy: A Statement of Purpose and Program. June. The Chicago Academy of Sciences, Chicago, Illinois. Miller, Jon D. 1992 The Public Understanding of Science & Technology in the United States, 1990. Report to the National Science Foundation. Analytic report accompanying the 1990 survey of the public understanding of science and technology, sponsored by the Science and Engineering Indicators Program of the Division of Science Resources Studies, National Science Foundation. Hard copy tabulations of data from the entire series (1979 through 1990) may be ordered for a nominal charge from the International Center for the Advancement of Scientific Literacy. Data disks are also available from the International Center. Washington, D.C.: Division of Science Resources Studies, National Science Foundation. 1993 Cross-national Studies of Adult Understanding of Science. Memorandum and presentation to the Board on International Comparative Studies in Education. June 18. 1993 Science and technology: Public attitudes and public understanding. Science and Engineering Indicators. National Science Foundation, Washington, D.C. ****** NOTE: This study summary was reviewed and edited by Veronica Muñoz for Jon Miller at the Chicago Academy of Sciences on July 8, 1994.