عنوان مقاله [English]
In the second half of the 1980s, new concerns emerged under the title of âpublic understanding of scienceâ (PUS). This transition is marked by the influential report of the Royal Society of London in 1985. Like the previous cases, the diagnosis is that of a public deficit, who does not show sufficient support for science and this makes scientific institutions concerned. The Royal Society took the view of many of its members and assumed that better knowledge will be the driver of positive attitudes hence the axiom: âthe more you know, the more you love it. This research agenda moved away from knowledge to attitude, and concerns for scientific literacy carried over to test the expectation âthe more you know, the more you love itâ. Likewise, the emphasis shifted from a dichotomy to a continuum: one is not literate or illiterate, but rather is more or less knowledgeable. And the correlation between knowledge and attitude became the main focus of research. But the expectation that better knowledge drives positive attitudes is not confirmed. Although generally there may be some relations, there is no correlation at all when it comes controversial issues. Well and less well-informed citizens are to be found on either side of the controversy. Social psychology, though not the Royal Society, tells us that knowledge it not a driver of attitude, but a quality index: attitudes, whether positive or negative, that are based on knowledge are held more strongly and thus resist change. Well-informed and less well-informed citizens make up their minds differently, but do not necessarily come to different conclusions. PUS research extended its concepts, methods and data. Attitudes to science may be part of a general political sophistication, a public resource not specific to science. The debate over public deficits also stimulated complementary data streams, such as qualitative discourse analyses and mass media monitoring, which reveal long-term trends such as the medicalization of science news over the last 30 years. PUS had a rationalist and a realist agenda. For the rationalists, attitudes arise from information processing with a rational core. It is assumed that if people had all the information, and were able to understand probabilities, they would be more supportive of science. The battle for the public is a battle for minds with more information and the correct statistical reasoning (i.e. risk perception). For the realists, attitudes are emotional relations with the world. How emotions may relate to rationality is a vexing question. Realists understand emotions with the logic of advertising. Thus, the battle for the public mind becomes a battle for hearts. How to attract public attention? The issue becomes one of âsexing upâ the evidence. The public is the consumer who is to be seduced. In this logic, there is little difference between scientific news and washing powder. The critique of PUS again focused on the deficit models of knowledge or attitude: Negative attitudes are neither an expression of lack of knowledge nor of good judgment. However, the attribution of a public deficit expresses the timidity or even âinstitutional neuroticismâ (Brian Wynne), the diffuse anxieties and condescendence of scientific actors vis-Ã -vis the public. The public deficit model is in fact a self-fulfilling prophecy: the public, a-priori deficient, cannot be trusted. Mistrust on the part of scientific actors will be paid back in kind with public mistrust. Negative public attitudes then confirm the assumption among scientists: the public is not to be trusted. This circularity called for âsoul searchingâ among scientific actors. The aim of the current research is also to investigate validity, reliability and normalization of "public understanding of science" scale in Isfahan city.
Material & Methods
In the current research, the statistical population is comprised of all the residents of Isfahan city. This study is designed as a survey. The research sample was gathered through quota sampling. Data have been analyzed by SPSS and AMOS. The method of analysis was Confirmatory Factor Analysis. For determining validity and normalization, 384 participants and for reliability two sample of 40 individuals were chosen.
In order to determine the validity of "public understanding of science" questionnaire, the methods of "Confirmatory Factor Analysis" and "content validity" were used. And for determining reliability of the questionnaire, the consistency coefficients and test-retest reliability were used.
Discussion of Results & Conclusions
Findings showed that the variable public understanding of science has four primary dimensions, including: "interest in scientific subjects", "knowledge about scientific concepts", "level of scientific knowledge" and "attitude towards science and technology", as well as eleven sub-dimensions.
At first, first-order confirmatory factor models were used to validate the measures used for each of the dimensions of public understanding of science. At the end, after eliminating items with a low factor loading, analysis yielded acceptable fit indices:
Fit indices after eliminating items with a low factor loading
indices interest in
in policy- making Knowledge
of scientific institutions
of public knowledge Level
historical knowledge Attitude
government Attitude towards
effect of science
CMIN 15/3 21 38/45 77/37 89/6 3/47 83/9 86/2 2/14 2/8 0/26
P 0/95 0/45 0/07 0/20 0/32 0/09 0/07 0/08 0/08 0/24 1/24
CMIN/DF 0/75 1/46 1/42 1/2 1/6 3/4 3/1 2/5 3/1 1/4 1/24
CFI 1 0/93 0/99 0/87 0/96 0/97 0/92 0/84 0/94 0/99 0/99
PCFI 0/78 0/62 0/74 0/52 0/65 0/52 0/64 0/51 0/61 0/48 0/53
RMSEA 0/00 0/05 0/04 0/10 0/04 0/03 0/06 0/09 0/09 0/04 0/04
A good estimate of H-indices was obtained in the Second Order Confirmatory Factor Analysis (2nd âorder CFA) conducted on the measure of public understanding of science. In Second Order Confirmatory Factor Analysis (2nd âorder CFA), Fit indices showed that specified model is confirmed by the data gathered:
RMSEA= 0/09 df = 40 Chi-square= 118/1 P= 0/07
CFI= 0/89 PCFI = 0/62 CMIN/D.F =2/9
The results of the reliability test are at an acceptable level, with Cronbach Alpha coefficient being above 0.7, and test-retest reliability coefficient above 0.69, for all the dimensions of public understanding of science. The total reliability of the questionnaire was also acceptable, with Cronbach Alpha coefficient equal to 0.84, and test-retest reliability coefficient equal to 0.69. Transformation of raw score of normalizing sample (n=384) into T and Z score and percentiles failed for the norms of questionnaire.
The mean of the standard scores is zero, indicating that the distribution of the data has been symmetric. The developed questionnaire in this study, therefore, is valid and reliable and, from now on, can be used in the social studies for the purpose of measuring public understanding of scientific concepts. Citizens' interest in science and technology is more than average level. The results of the research show that the majority of citizens in Isfahan have positive attitudes towards science and technology, but level of their scientific knowledge is less than the average level.