chapter  4
21 Pages

American Public Understanding of Science: 1979–2006


This study examines how generation and age, net of gender, high school science and math, and college science, affected American adult civic science literacy (CSL) using the National Science Foundation Surveys of Public Understanding of Science and Technology 1979 to 2006. In 2007 alone, US science and technology research and development expenditures exceeded 350 billion dollars (US Bureau of the Census: 2009, Table 769). Yet many industrial leaders, educators, scientists, and politicians believe our youth are unprepared for college, that a “brain drain” occurs from science to other educational areas, and that adults cannot discuss science at the level of a major newspaper (Burris, 2006; Gates 2005; Miller, 2000, Lemonick, et al., 2006; Seymour, 2006). These criticisms ensue despite sizable changes in science education.