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Mária B. Németh: The Assessment of Science Literacy

This paper discusses tests of science literacy for everyday situations as well as results from an assessment project based on them. Users do not need a thorough statistical background in order to gain important information with this instrument. A correct response to each task requires factual knowledge included in the science curricula for grades 8 through 10. Similarly to the PISA survey, the test “Science in everyday life” assesses science literacy at three difficulty levels. It targets material learned in science lessons, but it is presented in a different framework, in the context of everyday problems. When assessed with this instrument, students seem to possess mediocre science literacy. The small difference between the two age groups in the sample is especially striking. Students in the vocational stream of secondary education gave weaker performances than the mean for eighth graders (in the final year of primary education). This suggests that the school cannot compensate the initial disadvantages of some student groups. The more complex the knowledge assessed, the lower performance levels turn out to be. Performances on the assessed literacy levels differ by student group. The data suggest that in spite of two years of schooling and a significantly growing body of factual knowledge, the relationship between academic performance and the ability to apply knowledge learned in new contexts becomes weaker. The influence of inductive reasoning on performance, however, seems to be subject to change only to a small degree. It seems possible that knowledge which can be activated in everyday situations is mostly the result of learning outside the school, and its change can be explained by a growing body of experience as well as the development of abilities. An important implication of the results is that the contribution of the school to knowledge applicable in everyday situations is primarily an issue of teaching methodology.

MAGYAR PEDAGÓGIA 103. Number 4. 499-526. (2003)

Levelezési cím / Address for correspondence: B. Németh Mária, SZTE MTA Képességkutató Csoport, H–6722 Szeged, Petőfi S. sgt. 30–34.


Magyar Tudományos Akadémia