In most of developed and developing countries, measuring the public understanding of science and technology is a new field in national research. These researches which are mostly defined and done by national organizations, reveal the essential needs of policy makers for figuring out the public views about these issues. Therefore, these researches have significant effects on policy making in the fields of science and technology. Considering the importance of these issues, the necessity for developing new methods for determining the leading factors and quantifying them is appreciated. As a consequence, various theoretical classifications are presented for determining the elements of public understanding of science, mostly introducing vision, attitude, and public scientific knowledge (either about scientific contents or scientific method) as a criteria for designing appropriate gauge in qualitative and quantitative questionnaires for measuring this. The drawback of present solutions is that they doesn't present any comprehensive analysis on public answers to routine questions asked in these sorts of questionnaires; In other words, there is no proper theoretical framework for analyzing the responses of these questionnaire.

In this paper, we analyzed the answers to an ancient question of humankind (i.e. rotation of earth around sun) and as a consequent, we inversely designed a questionnaire with more appropriate buoy based on the responses. For this purpose, we asked the opinion of respondents about whether earth revolves around the sun or vice versa. They are also requested to explain their reasons about their answers.

Our main assumption was that it does exist significant and distinguishable categories, though our question probably was causing diverging answers. Eliminating the meaningless answers, we found out that it is possible to figure out the reasoning levels used in their answers. By reasoning, we mean the value of premises and conclusions of used reasoning by respondents. We observed that the level of reasoning for chosen gauges varies form solely tiny observations (facts) to completely non-experimental reasoning. Although it was expected to observe coherence between method and level of reasoning, different combinations were detected. For instance, even though some of respondents were distinguished as explanatory theory in respect to their reasoning level, it was emphasized by them that validity of their theory(ies) solely relies on observation. Analysis of answers showed that it is possible to discriminate the respondents regarding their reasoning method (i.e. methods and means which respondents use to derive their conclusions based on their own premises). Spectrum of chosen respondents was widespread, either in cultural or educational aspects (e.g. elementary school students, high school physics teachers in different counties, nomadic pastoralists schools, etc). Results show that it's reliable to obtain the gauge of level and methods of reasoning with analyzing the answers, and classifying them. It was vivid that these gauges have significant distinctions within different studied groups in society, and as a consequence, those gauges can be used for measuring mentioned differences.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Assessing the problem of rotation of earth around sun as a significant tool for measuring the public understanding of science

Maziar Attari   Cerriculum Development Center

Roham Farzami   Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Waterloo

In most of developed and developing countries, measuring the public understanding of science and technology is a new field in national research. These researches which are mostly defined and done by national organizations, reveal the essential needs of policy makers for figuring out the public views about these issues. Therefore, these researches have significant effects on policy making in the fields of science and technology. Considering the importance of these issues, the necessity for developing new methods for determining the leading factors and quantifying them is appreciated. As a consequence, various theoretical classifications are presented for determining the elements of public understanding of science, mostly introducing vision, attitude, and public scientific knowledge (either about scientific contents or scientific method) as a criteria for designing appropriate gauge in qualitative and quantitative questionnaires for measuring this. The drawback of present solutions is that they doesn't present any comprehensive analysis on public answers to routine questions asked in these sorts of questionnaires; In other words, there is no proper theoretical framework for analyzing the responses of these questionnaire.

In this paper, we analyzed the answers to an ancient question of humankind (i.e. rotation of earth around sun) and as a consequent, we inversely designed a questionnaire with more appropriate buoy based on the responses. For this purpose, we asked the opinion of respondents about whether earth revolves around the sun or vice versa. They are also requested to explain their reasons about their answers.

Our main assumption was that it does exist significant and distinguishable categories, though our question probably was causing diverging answers. Eliminating the meaningless answers, we found out that it is possible to figure out the reasoning levels used in their answers. By reasoning, we mean the value of premises and conclusions of used reasoning by respondents. We observed that the level of reasoning for chosen gauges varies form solely tiny observations (facts) to completely non-experimental reasoning. Although it was expected to observe coherence between method and level of reasoning, different combinations were detected. For instance, even though some of respondents were distinguished as explanatory theory in respect to their reasoning level, it was emphasized by them that validity of their theory(ies) solely relies on observation. Analysis of answers showed that it is possible to discriminate the respondents regarding their reasoning method (i.e. methods and means which respondents use to derive their conclusions based on their own premises). Spectrum of chosen respondents was widespread, either in cultural or educational aspects (e.g. elementary school students, high school physics teachers in different counties, nomadic pastoralists schools, etc). Results show that it's reliable to obtain the gauge of level and methods of reasoning with analyzing the answers, and classifying them. It was vivid that these gauges have significant distinctions within different studied groups in society, and as a consequence, those gauges can be used for measuring mentioned differences.

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