chapter  14
21 Pages

Using Latent Trait Models to Assess Cross-National Scales of the Public’s Knowledge about Science and Technology


The formulation of the construct ‘knowledge’, or ‘literacy’ as it is sometimes called, has been a subject of considerable debate amongst those studying the relationship between science and the public (Sturgis and Allum, 2004). Different types of knowledge have been proposed (e.g. Shen, 1975), with ‘civic’ scientifi c knowledge attracting the greatest degree of attention. In their turn, different types of civic scientifi c knowledge have been distinguished. Of these, knowledge of the content or vocabulary of science has received most consideration-perhaps partly because it is arguably more straightforward to operationalise, using survey questionnaires, than elements such as knowledge of the institutional aspects of science.