Development of a test for scientific literacy and its application in assessing the scientific literacy of matriculants entering universities and technikons in the Western Cape, South Africa

Doctoral Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This exploratory study was conducted against the background of immediate post-apartheid South Africa in which the social upliftment and improvement of living conditions of all South Africans is regarded as of the highest priority. In a science- and technology-orientated world, science and technology is inextricably linked to this process. The purposes of this study were (a) to determine the level of scientific literacy of matriculants entering tertiary education in the Western Cape for the first time; (b) to describe patterns of scientific literacy levels with respect to selected demographic and other student background variables; and (c) to ascertain which student background variables appear to have the most influence in determining whether matriculants are scientifically literate or not. A survey was deemed to be appropriate for answering the above research questions. Underpinning the study was the development of a pool of scientific literacy test-items, from which a criterion-referenced, reliable, valid, and composite scientific literacy test instrument - the Test of Basic Scientific Literacy - could be constructed.

Bibliography: p. [331]-349.