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Policy & Legislation

Major science and numeracy education reform efforts now are underway within the K-12 community and higher-ed systems. Adult learners in literacy programs deserve to benefit also from these educational initiatives. The aim of this special collection is to provide the resources and opportunities for instructors and learners to be a part of this educational effort and to increase their scientific and technological literacy.

The initial intended audience for this page is the practitioner in adult literacy programs. This special collection will allow instructors to develop and incorporate into their teaching and learning processes a series of inquiry-based activities in the context of science and numeracy.


Connections between Scientific Literacy and Adult Education

Many people think of literacy as the ability to read. However, the term "literacy" was more broadly defined by the United States Congress in 1991 as "...an individual's ability to read, write, and speak English, and compute and solve problems at levels of proficiency necessary to function on the job and in society, to achieve one's goals, and develop one's knowledge and potential". (Public Law 102-73, July 25, 1991)

At the same time this broad definition was developed, the American scientific community was evaluating the deplorable lack of scientific literacy in the United States. Project 2061 of the American Association for the Advancement of Science addressed the question, "What should a science-literate adult know and be able to do in science, mathematics, and technology?" Answers to that question appear in the Project 2061 landmark publication, Science for All Americans (1989). This book identifies "...knowledge, skills, and habits of mind that all citizens need to live interesting, responsible, and productive lives in a culture shaped by science and technology." *

It is easy to see the connection between literacy as defined by Congress and the science literacy goals for educational reform. "Science for All Americans is based on the belief that the science-literate person is one who is aware that science, mathematics, and technology are interdependent human enterprises with strengths and limitations; understands key concepts and principles of science; is familiar with the natural world and recognizes both its diversity and unity; and uses scientific knowledge and scientific ways of thinking for individual and social purposes." **

*From RESOURCES FOR SCIENCE LITERACY by American Association for the Advancement of Science. Copyright 1997 by American Association for the Advancement of Science. Used by permission of Oxford University Press, Inc.

**From SCIENCE FOR ALL AMERICANS by American Association for the Advancement of Science. Copyright 1989, 1990 by American Association for the Advancement of Science. Used by permission of Oxford University Press, Inc.