Research in Science Education

, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 129–140 | Cite as

Unpacking the Relationship Between Science Education and Applied Scientific Literacy

  • Amanda Crowell
  • Christian Schunn


Scientific literacy has many meanings: it can be thought of as foundational knowledge, foundational critical thinking skills, or the application of these two foundations to everyday decision making. Here, we examine the far transfer scenario: do increases in science education lead to everyday decision-making becoming more consistent with consensus scientific knowledge? We report on a large sample of employees of a mixed urban/rural county representing a diverse range of careers, who completed an anonymous survey about their environmental conservation actions at home, as well as their general education level and their science coursework. Across broad and narrow measures of science education, we find little impact on action. Possible causes of this failure of transfer and the implications for changes in science instruction are discussed.


Science education Scientific literacy 



This study was funded by a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to the Christian Schunn.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Learning Research and Development CenterPittsburghUSA

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