Alison Hyslop, St John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of Chemistry
Abstract: Scientific literacy is defined as the understanding of the basic approach to science and the ability to utilize a set of basic constructs to make sense of contemporary public policy arguments involving science and technology. This can be separated into three types of science literacy: consumer scientific literacy (using science to make consumer decisions), civic scientific literacy (understanding science enough to follow and make sense of public-policy issues involving science), and cultural scientific literacy (role of science in society).
Civic scientific literacy gives people the ability to understand basic scientific constructs that will allow them to acquire and make sense of emerging scientific ideas and developments. In the United States, civic scientific literacy has increased from 10% to about 30%, as indicated from NSF Science and Engineering Indicators Surveys. A number of different factors affect an individual’s scientific literacy; these include, but are not limited to, educational attainment, college science courses, and religion.