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Title:A survey of the general public's knowledge and attitudes for political participation regarding selected technological issues
Author(s):Welty, Kenneth David
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Wentling, Tim
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Industrial
Political Science, General
Education, Technology of
Abstract:A popular rationale for infusing the study of technology into the general education curriculum is the need to prepare a technologically literate citizenry for the protection and enhancement of our democratic way of life. This study examined the validity of this rationale by investigating the general public's knowledge and attitudes for political participation regarding nuclear power, automation, and genetic engineering.
The population for this study consisted of residents of McLean county, Illinois who were 18 years old or older. The random sampling procedure resulted in 266 telephone interviews with an 81% contact rate, a 52% response rate, and a 97% completion rate.
The findings indicate the general public has a limited understanding of the salient concepts, advantages, and disadvantages associated with nuclear power, automation, and genetic engineering. Furthermore, a significant portion of the general public would feel insecure voting on a referendum, signing a petition, or writing their legislator regarding these controversial technologies.
However, approximately 10% of the general public is attentive to science and technology issues. This segment of the population is very interested in science and technology issues, perceives itself as being informed about these issues, has a history of political participation, and monitors events in science and technology on a regular basis.
In contrast to the nonattentive public, a series of chi-square analyses indicate a significant (p $<$.05) majority of the attentive public can provide a simple definition for the terms nuclear power, automation, and genetic engineering; cite at least one advantage and one disadvantage associated with these technologies; and engage in political activities regarding these controversial technologies with some confidence.
The study concludes that the concerns expressed by some educators regarding the general public's fitness to participate in technology policy decisions have some validity. Furthermore, public education has had very limited success preparing citizens for political participation in policy decisions regarding technology issues.
Issue Date:1991
Rights Information:Copyright 1991 Welty, Kenneth David
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9136763
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9136763

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