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The Perspective Of Non Engineers On Technological Literacy

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.535.1 - 4.535.12

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Paper Authors

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Charles W. Green

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John Krupczak

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Session 3661

The Perspective of Non-Engineers on Technological Literacy

John Krupczak, Jr., Charles W. Green Hope College


This works provides a glimpse into the expectations held by non-engineers for courses in technological literacy. Non-science and non-engineering majors were surveyed to determine what types of information they would like to learn regarding science and technology. The students were enrolled in the “Science and Technology of Everyday Life” course taught at Hope College in the Fall 1998 semester. Anonymous surveys were distributed at the beginning and end of the course. The surveys intended to sample student expectations and interests in learning about science and technology. Later students wrote a short essay describing the information and abilities they considered desirable in the areas of science and technology. Focus group discussions were also conducted. The responses tend toward a desire for information and abilities the non-engineers term as practical or useful in confronting the challenges posed by living in a technological society. The ability to understand what is wrong when technology breaks down, and technical knowledge of benefit to the consumer is highly valued. Specific topics of interest include the automobile, the computer, and common household technological devices. While the input from the non-engineering students forms a useful basis for curriculum development, the general nature of the student expectations leaves ample scope for science and engineering educators to develop specific details of instructional programs.

I. Introduction

Colleges and universities are being called upon to improve the quality of education in science and technology for all undergraduates1. In the United States, the National Science Foundation is requesting that Science, Math, Technology and Engineering (SME&T) programs concentrate more effort on the 80% of college students who are not SME&T majors. This latest initiative comes shortly after the completion of a major effort by the Sloan Foundation to improve the quality of education that undergraduates receive in the areas of technology and quantitative reasoning2.

A number of science and engineering educators have begun to create courses intended to specifically address the needs of the non-SME&T students. A review of some historical background information and relevant new developments has been compiled by Byars3. A physics textbook for the general student addressing the basic principles of physics in the context of familiar technological devices has been written by Bloomfield4.

As new initiatives are being developed to reach non-SME&T students, a need exists for guidelines on definitions for scientific and technological literacy. The National Research

Green, C. W., & Krupczak, J. (1999, June), The Perspective Of Non Engineers On Technological Literacy Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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