LSC researchers publish on operationalizations of scientific understanding in science and public policy

In an article in Science and Public Policy, LSC alumni Pete Ladwig (M.S., ’11) and Kajsa E. Dalrymple (Ph.D., ’11), now assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Iowa, along with LSC faculty members Dominique Brossard and Dietram A. Scheufele, as well as Elizabeth A. Corley, of the Center of Nanotechnology and Society and the School of Public Affairs at Arizona State University, compare operationalizations of scientific understanding.

Using data from the 2007 Public Awareness of Nanotechnology Study, this research compares the concepts of “factual knowledge” and “perceived familiarity,” two commonly used measures to test for scientific understanding. The authors argue that the concepts are distinct and are predicted by different variables. They conclude, “Our analyses show that mass media messages continue to influence individuals’ underlying knowledge processes differently, which may subsequently influence levels of science understanding. Specifically, this study highlights the importance of the internet in disseminating information about nanotechnology and science.”

This research was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (Grant No. SES-DMR-0832760) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Nanoscale and Science and Engineering Center in the Templated Synthesis and Assembly (Grant No. SES-0531194). Any opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF.

The full text of the article is available here.