PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) defines scientific literacy for individuals in this way:
- Scientific knowledge and use of that knowledge to identify questions, to acquire new knowledge, to explain scientific phenomena, and to draw evidence-based conclusions about science-related issues. For example, when individuals read about a health-related issue, can they separate scientific from nonscientific aspects of the text and can they apply knowledge and justify personal decisions?
- Understanding of the characteristic features of science as a form of human knowledge and inquiry. For example, do individuals know the difference between evidence-based explanations and personal opinions?
- Awareness of how science and technology shape our material, intellectual, and cultural environments. This component of scientific literacy centers on the influence of science and technology on society.
- Willingness to engage with science-related issues, and with the ideas of science, as a reflective citizen. Just because a student can spit back facts and vocabulary, doesn't mean they will choose a career in science or see public money allocated to scientific and technological research.