P458: Challenges studying adult populations in chemistry education research

Author: Michael Hands, Purdue University, USA

Co-Author: Gabriela Weaver, Purdue University, USA

Date: 8/5/14

Time: 11:30 AM11:50 AM

Room: MAK A1151

Related Symposium: S38

The average American spends approximately five percent of their lifetime in a classroom, with a fraction of that devoted to science education. While understanding how learning occurs in these formal education settings is important, it is also of interest to understand how learning occurs in informal environments that make up the vast majority of an individual’s learning opportunities. However, researching adult science learning in informal settings poses significant challenges, particularly in identifying, selecting, and recruiting participants. When doing research with the general public, it is not always clear how to access the desired participants or how to design data collection to promote participant completion of the study. This presentation will discuss these issues in the context of ongoing research into how members of the general public understand science news reports. Considerations of population selection, participant recruitment, and participant compensation will also be discussed.

P84: Chemistry research in the news: The effect of detailed descriptions of study limitations on public understanding

Author: Michael Hands, Purdue University, USA

Co-Author: Gabriela Weaver, Purdue University, USA

Date: 8/3/14

Time: 2:25 PM2:45 PM

Room: LTT 103

Related Symposium: S13

Despite numerous calls for improving scientific literacy, many American adults show a lack of understanding of experiments, scientific study, and scientific inquiry. While much effort is focused on improving scientific literacy in formal education settings, less attention has been paid to the free-choice (informal) learning opportunities that make up the vast majority of an individual’s learning. News media is one important avenue for free-choice science learning and understanding how adults interpret science news could lead to better communication between researchers and the public. News accounts of chemistry typically do not include study limitations that are discussed in the original research article. To determine how this difference might affect readers’ understanding of science news, staff members and science faculty of a large Midwestern research university read one of two versions of a science news article that differ in the inclusion of a discussion of the limitations of the research. Participants were interviewed about their understanding of the content of the article, trust in the information presented, perceptions of the significance of the research, and interpretation of the limitations. Comparisons between groups that read the news article with limitations and groups that read the article without limitations will be presented, as well as an extension of this work to a general public sample.