Examining Scientific Literacy through New Media
Xiaoqing Gu 1  
Chunli Wang 2
More details
Hide details
East China Normal University, CHINA
Henan Normal University, CHINA
University of North Texas, USA
Online publish date: 2019-07-10
Publish date: 2019-07-10
EURASIA J. Math., Sci Tech. Ed 2019;15(12):em1785
This study aims to evaluate the impact of new media on scientific literacy. Content analysis with a coding scheme was performed on 42 filtered websites and 20 microblogs to analyze the role of new media in disseminating scientific knowledge. The results showed that the quality of science-oriented websites was higher than that of microblogs. Although both types of new media include valid and accurate information, concerns have been expressed regarding the lack of in-depth analysis of scientific knowledge. In addition, a questionnaire was administered to 1,870 sampled college students to determine their scientific literacy levels. According to the results, the use of science-oriented microblogs does not produce a statistical difference, whereas students who use science-oriented websites have higher scientific literacy level than the non-users. Furthermore, students’ identification ability for scientific information from new media is significantly correlated with their scientific literacy. Students’ education, major, and identification ability contributed to their scientific literacy. Suggestions about how to improve the quality of science-oriented new media and how to develop students’ scientific literacy through new media have been discussed.
American Association for the Advancement of Science. (1993). Benchmarks for Science Literacy. New York: Oxford University Press.
American Association for the Advancement of Science. (2016). Communicating Science Online. Retrieved from
Anderson, A. A., Brossard, D., Scheufele, D. A., Xenos, M. A., & Ladwig, P. (2014). The “nasty effect:” online incivility and risk perceptions of emerging technologies. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 19(3), 373–387.
Aral, S., & Walker, D. (2012). Identifying influential and susceptible members of social networks. Science, 336(6092), 337-341.
Bauer, M. W. (2009). The evolution of public understanding of science-discourse and comparative evidence. Science, Technology and Society, 14(2), 221-240.
Brossard, D. (2012). A (brave) new world: Challenges and opportunities for communicating about biotechnology in new information environments. In M.-D. Weitze, A. Pühler, W. M. Heckl, B. Müller-Röber, O. Renn, P. Weingart, & G. Wess (Eds), Biotechnologie-Kommunikation (pp. 427-445). Heidelberg: Springer.
Brossard, D. (2013). New media landscapes and the science information consumer. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(3), 14096–14101.
Brossard, D., & Scheufele, D. A. (2013). Science, new media, and the public. Science, 339(6115), 40–41.
Brossard, D., & Shanahan, J. (2006). Do they know what they read? Building a scientific literacy measurement instrument based on science media coverage. Science Communication, 28(1), 47-63.
Buxner, S., Impey, C., Romine, J., & Nieberding, M. (2015). Investigating knowledge and sources of scientific information of university students and lifelong learners. Retrieved from
Fauville, G., Dupont, S., von Thun, S., & Lundin, J. (2015). Can Facebook be used to increase scientific literacy? A case study of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute Facebook page and ocean literacy. Computers & Education, 82, 60-73.
Fives, H., Huebner, W., Birnbaum, A. S., & Nicolich, M. (2014). Developing a measure of scientific literacy for middle school students. Science Education, 98(4), 549-580.
Gauld, C. (1982). The scientific attitude and science education: A critical reappraisal. Science Education, 66(1), 109-121.
Hanushek, E., & Woessman, L. (2016). Knowledge capital, growth, and the East Asian miracle. Science, 351(6271), 344–345.
Harris, R. (2007). Evaluating Internet research sources. Retrieved from
Impey, C. (2013). Science literacy of undergraduates in the United States. In A. Heck (Ed.), Organizations, People and Strategies in Astronomy (pp. 353-364). Heidelberg: Springer.
Impey, C., Buxner, S., Antonellis, J., Johnson, E., & King, C. (2011). A twenty-year survey of science literacy among college undergraduates. Journal of College Science Teaching, 40(4), 31-37. Retrieved from
Jarman, R., & McClune, B. (2007). Developing scientific literacy: Using news media in the classroom. Maidenhead, England: Open University Press.
Laberge, Y. (2016). New media and social networks. Public Understanding of Science, 25(8), 1017–1019.
Laugksch, R. C. (2000). Scientific literacy: A conceptual overview. Science Education, 84(1), 71–94.<71::AID-SCE6>3.0.CO;2-C.
Liang, X., Su, L. Y.-F., Yeo, S. K., Scheufele, D. A., Brossard, D., Xenos, M.,Corley, E. A. (2014). Building Buzz: (Scientists) Communicating science in new media environments. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 91(4), 772–791.
Lievrouw, L. A. (2010). Social Media and the Production of Knowledge: A Return to Little Science?. Social Epistemology, 24(3), 219-237.
Lindeman, M., & Aarnio, K. (2007). Superstitious, magical, and paranormal beliefs: An integrative model. Journal of Research in Personality, 41(4), 731-744.
Miller, J. D. (1983). Scientific literacy: A conceptual and empirical review. Daedalus, 112(2), 29-48. Retrieved from
Miller, J. D. (2004). Public understanding of, and attitudes toward, scientific research: What we know and what we need to know. Public Understanding of Science, 13(3), 273-294.
National Bureau of Statistics of China. (2011). Bulletin of the sixth national population census in 2010. Retrieved from
National Bureau of Statistics of China. (2017). China Statistical Yearbook 2017. Retrieved from
National Research Council. (1996). National Science Education Standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
National Science Board. (2014). Science and engineering indicators: 2014. Retrieved from
National Science Board. (2016). Science and engineering indicators: 2016. Retrieved from
Nisbet, M. C., Scheufele, D. A., Shanahan, J., Moy, P., Brossard, D., & Lewenstein, B. V. (2002). Knowledge, reservations, or promise? A media effects model for public perceptions of science and technology. Communication Research, 29(5), 584-608.
North Carolina State University’s Science Education Research in Visual Instructional Technologies Group. (1999). Evaluating Science WWW Resources. Retrieved from
Pariser, E. (2012). The Filter Bubble: How the New Personalized Web Is Changing What We Read and How We Think. New York: The Penguin press.
Peters, H. P., Dunwoody, S., Allgaier, J., Lo, Y.-Y., & Brossard, D. (2014). Public communication of science 2.0. Embo Reports, 15(7), 749–753.
Rennie, L. (2005). Science awareness and scientific literacy. Teaching Science: The Journal of the Australian Science Teachers Association, 51(1), 10–14. Retrieved from
Rubba, P. A., & Andersen, H. O. (1978). Development of an instrument to assess secondary school students understanding of the nature of scientific knowledge. Science Education, 62(4), 449-458.
Rundgren, C.-J., Rundgren, S.-N. C., Tseng, Y.-H., Lin, P.-L., & Chang, C.-Y. (2012). Are you SLiM? Developing an instrument for civic scientific literacy measurement (SLiM) based on media coverage. Public Understanding of Science, 21(6), 759–773.
Smith, A. G. (1997). Testing the surf: criteria for evaluating Internet information resources. The Public Access-Computer Systems Review, 8(3), 5-23. Retrieved from
State Council of the People’s Republic of China. (2006). The Outline of the Action Plan for Improving Scientific Literacy for All. Beijing: The People Press.
Thomas, G., & Durant, J. (1987). Why should we promote the public understanding of science? In M. Shortland (Ed.), Scientific literacy papers (pp. 1–14). Oxford: Rewley House.
Warden, R. (2010). The Internet and science communication: Blurring the boundaries. Ecancermedicalscience, 4(203), 203–221.
Wenninger, A., Weingart, P., & Wormer, H. (2017). Social media and digital science communication: Analysis and recommendations for dealing with risks and opportunities in a democracy. Retrieved from
Zimmerman, C., Bisanz, G. L., Bisanz, J., Klein, J. S., & Klein, P. (2001). Science at the supermarket: A comparison of what appears in the popular press, experts’ advice to readers, and what students want to know. Public Understanding of Science, 10(1), 37-58.