NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ921530
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Mar
Pages: 7
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 9
ISSN: ISSN-0047-231X
A Twenty-Year Survey of Science Literacy among College Undergraduates
Impey, Chris; Buxner, Sanlyn; Antonellis, Jessie; Johnson, Elizabeth; King, Courtney
Journal of College Science Teaching, v40 n4 p31-37 Mar 2011
First results from a 20-year survey of science knowledge and attitudes toward science among undergraduates are presented. Nearly 10,000 students taking astronomy as part of a general education requirement answered a set of questions that overlap a science literacy instrument administered to the general public by the National Science Foundation. The research questions addressed are: What is the level of science literacy among undergraduates, and what variables or attributes predict science literacy? Their attitudes toward science and pseudo-science were probed by a set of 22 statements coded on a Likert scale. On the knowledge items, freshmen perform only marginally higher than the general public, with exception of large positive differences in their knowledge of evolution and the Big Bang. Gains on any particular item through the time that students graduate are only 10%-15%, despite the fact that they have taken two or three science courses. Belief in pseudoscience runs high, and the fact that the level of pseudoscience belief does not correlate well with the level of science knowledge is particularly noteworthy. In addition, no variable in the analysis is predictive of science literacy. Over the interval 1988-2008, there's no detectable improvement in undergraduate scientific literacy. (Contains 5 figures.)
National Science Teachers Association. 1840 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22201-3000. Tel: 800-722-6782; Fax: 703-243-3924; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Arizona