The ICASL currently operates several research projects.
Longitudinal Study of American Youth (LSAY). Funded by the NSF since 1985, the LSAY has been able to locate (track) more than 95% of its original participants and is currently surveying approximately 5,100 of the original 5,950 respondents who remain eligible (alive, living in the United States, and not in custodial care). The 2007 survey obtained an updated record of each individual’s educational and occupational activities since 1994 – the last year for which we have previous data. Responses were obtained from nearly 70% of the eligible population and the staff continues to track and locate respondents who have moved or for whom we lack an adequate address. A new 2008 questionnaire will be launched in November, 2008, and will collect information about current scientific literacy, current information acquisition activities, and updated educational and occupational information.
World Values Survey (WVS).This is a project that is located primarily at the University of Michigan, but Professor Ronald Inglehart (Michigan) and Professor Jon Miller (Michigan) are co-PI’s for the NSF-funded U.S. portion of the 2006-2007 survey. The 2006-7 wave of the WVS was the fifth and includes data from more than 50 countries. For the first time in the history of the WVS, this wave included a small set of items that measure attitude toward science and technology. Six items come from previous surveys conducted by Professor Miller were included in the 2006-2007 World Values Survey. Analysis is underway on the WVS data and the preliminary results suggest that there are major differences in the perception of science and technology in mature developed societies and developing societies.
Chicago Asthma Study. This work is funded by grants held at Northwestern University which support some time from Professors Miller and Kimmel. The Chicago Asthma Study is important to the work of the ICASL in two ways. First, the study is designed to learn more about how patients with chronic asthma learn about their disease and how they try to make sense of the flow of information from their physicians and from the media. Chronic diseases are a growing problem throughout the world and it is important to understand the cognitive and information acquisition processes involved. Second, the Chicago study has now completed data collection and was successful in maintaining more than 90% participation in a seven-wave longitudinal study of adults and adult caregivers of minor children over a two-year period. This is a remarkable methodological achievement and should produce methodological articles as well as substantive pieces.
Cancer Studies. In contrast to the long-term chronic disease pattern of asthma, cancer is a serious life-threatening disease with a much shorter course of diagnosis and treatment. From an information acquisition perspective, it is a very different kind of stimulus to seek information. Through two national studies over the last seven years, Professor Miller and his colleagues at the National Coalition of Cooperative Cancer Groups have built an excellent data base and have published one major article in the Journal of Clinical Oncology and a second article is in press at the Journal of Oncology Practice. Currently Professor Miller and colleagues from the College of Communication Arts and Sciences at MSU are conducting analyses of these data.
Evaluation of Science Television Programming.For the last several years, Professor Miller has been the evaluator of an NSF-funded project to infuse science news into local television newscasts. ScienCentral has an agreement with ABC and NBC to provide short video science news stories to the networks who in turn distribute them to local affiliates. The NSF puts substantial funding into this activity and wants to know if there is a credible impact. These studies provide a good evaluation on the impact and allow Professor Miller to continue his 25-year time series on American adult attitudes toward science and technology. A recent article in Science Communication describes the results of this work (Miller, Augenbraun, Schulhof & Kimmel. 2006. Adult science learning from local television newscasts. Science Communication 28(2): 216-242) [PDF available in Publications tab].
Evaluation of U.S.-China Planetarium Project. The NSF has funded Sesame Workshop (the producers of Sesame Street) to work with planetarium educators and producers to create a planetarium show for young children (ages 4-6) that will introduce some of the basic ideas about the Earth and the solar system. The show has been produced and is being shown in China and the U.S. to audiences of young children and their parents or teachers. Professor Miller will serve as the primary evaluator for this study in both the U.S. and China. Professor Li Daguang will direct the field work and evaluation in China. Data collection for the evaluation will begin in early 2009.
Replication of Katz and Lazarsfeld Study. Jon Miller and Charles Salmon are conducting a three wave study of information acquisition and utilization that will update the original work of Katz and Lazarsfeld (1955) in the Internet Era. Building on two cycles of data collection associated with the science news evaluation (see above), this study collected a third wave of data from the same respondents concerning information acquisition and use on some of the same subjects original studied by Katz and Lazarsfeld and on some new subjects appropriate to the 21st century. Several manuscripts are in process and a book in planned for 2009.