Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Science And Engineering Indicators '98 Survey Shows Americans' Interest In Science Grows

Date:
July 6, 1998
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
Americans say they are more interested and more aware than ever about scientific discoveries, inventions and new technologies. However, they still score low on actual understanding of basic scientific terms and concepts, such as the definition of molecules and DNA, and how frequently the earth revolves around the sun.

But Actual Understanding Of Scientific Terms And Concepts Still Lags

Americans say they are more interested and more aware than ever about scientific discoveries, inventions and new technologies. However, they still score low on actual understanding of basic scientific terms and concepts, such as the definition of molecules and DNA, and how frequently the earth revolves around the sun.

The public also seems divided intellectually and emotionally over the impact of some technological developments.

The newest survey measuring public attitudes and understanding of science, engineering and technology was published in the latest National Science Board's (NSB) biennial report to Congress, Science and Engineering (S&E)

Indicators 1998. The report is the NSB's volume of vital statistics on the state of science, engineering and technology in the United States.

"The awareness and interest in science continues on an upward path, but most Americans still don't understand the scientific process very well, and that affects their views on the nation's science policy," Jon Miller, who conducted the survey for the National Science Foundation (NSF), said. Miller is director of the International Center for the Advancement of Scientific Literacy at the Chicago Academy of Sciences.

In a testing method used for national and international surveys, American adults were asked a series of nine basic questions. On a zero-to-100 scale, their mean score was 55. Survey-takers scored worst on a question about their understanding of what is a molecule. They scored best on their understanding of how the continents are moving slowly about on the face of the earth.

"The American public believes that science and technology improves the quality of life, but its concern over specific technologies, such as nuclear power for electricity and genetic engineering, indicates that the public has not given science a blank check. And the scientific community needs to communicate its work more clearly and effectively because only one in four Americans understands the process of scientific discovery," Neal Lane, outgoing NSF director, said.

Among other survey findings:

  • Almost 70 percent of Americans surveyed in 1997 said they are interested in science and technology, the highest level ever;

  • Meanwhile, only one in five Americans think they are well-informed about new scientific discoveries and in the use of new inventions and technologies. This is improved compared to 1995;

  • American adults appear to understand basic scientific concepts as well as or better than other industrialized nations, in contrast with results produced by some American students in the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).

  • While there is a continuing rise in the use of computers in the workplace or at home across the general population, the biggest increase by far over the last two years has been among those with at least a bachelor's degree.

The impact of information technologies on the economy, education and on private citizens is now so vast that a new chapter was written for S&E Indicators 1998 to assess the issue. The report finds that the use of these technologies in the workplace is pervasive but that there are significant inequities in access to computers and the Internet in schools.

"We should be concerned about these inequities in our schools," Shirley Malcom, former NSB member and chair of its education and human resources committee, said. "It is crucial that our schools have consistently modern tools together with quality content, and that teachers get the training needed to instruct students using these technologies."

The National Science Board is the governing body for the National Science Foundation, an independent federal agency which develops S&E Indicators for the NSB every two years through the Division of Science Resources Studies. The final report is submitted to the President, who transmits it to Congress.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Science And Engineering Indicators '98 Survey Shows Americans' Interest In Science Grows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 July 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/07/980706080108.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (1998, July 6). Science And Engineering Indicators '98 Survey Shows Americans' Interest In Science Grows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/07/980706080108.htm
National Science Foundation. "Science And Engineering Indicators '98 Survey Shows Americans' Interest In Science Grows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/07/980706080108.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Science News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

AFP (July 24, 2014) America's death penalty debate raged Thursday after it took nearly two hours for Arizona to execute a prisoner who lost a Supreme Court battle challenging the experimental lethal drug cocktail. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

AFP (July 24, 2014) China's elderly population is expanding so quickly that children struggle to look after them, pushing them to do something unexpected in Chinese society- move their parents into a nursing home. Duration: 02:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins