Table 7-7
Adult and student correct answers to scientific process questions
(Percent correct)
        U.S. adult   Student
Process question Field of study 2008 General
Social Survey
International Question
1. Please look at Card A. A gardener has an idea that a plant needs sand in the soil for healthy growth. In order to test her idea she uses two pots of plants. She sets up one pot of plants as shown on the top part of the card. Which one of the pictures on the bottom part of the card shows what she should use for the second pot?a   Life sciences 51   70 58 TIMSS
Science 2003,
8th grade
2. Please look at Card 5. What is the scientist trying to find out from this experiment? Life sciences 40 38 NA AAAS Project
3. (Follow-up to question 2) Why did you choose that answer? Life sciences 38 46 NA AAAS Project

NA = not available, question not asked

AAAS = American Association for the Advancement of Science; TIMSS = Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study.

a Respondent can answer this question by using knowledge of experiment/controlling variable or knowledge in the life sciences.

NOTES: Questions appeared in 2008 General Social Survey. Original sources of questions are TIMSS and AAAS Project 2061. For complete questions, see sidebar: "New Science Knowledge Questions Included in the General Social Survey: 2008."

SOURCES: University of Chicago, National Opinion Research Center, General Social Survey (2008), see appendix table 7-15; TIMSS,; Deboer GE, Gogos A. Unpublished results of national field test assessing middle school students' understanding of controlling variables, AAAS Project 2061.

Science and Engineering Indicators 2010