Thinking about Science Survey Instrument (TSSI)

Many scientists and science educators are concerned about the public's ambiguous relationship with science and this public includes elementary teachers. Like many citizens, too many elementary teachers find science disconnected from everyday life and thinking. Science is a "school subject" not an important part of everyday life. Some may believe that science conflicts with important personal beliefs they hold about other areas of life such as religion and art. Elementary teachers who feel this disconnection with science will at best approach science teaching as something one does if school authorities demand it. Given that we are now promoting constructivist approaches to science teaching among teachers who frequently face the challenges of multiculturalism, and in addition the rising challenges to science itself, society's demands of elementary teachers is all the more greater. The demands increasingly require of teachers an engagement with science at a significant level of depth and sophistication. The research reported here is about developing new insight on the processes of elementary science teacher education and development, and in general the development of the public understanding of science, vis-a-vis social and cultural factors that contribute either to science resistance or affirmation of science. This document reports on the development of a quantitative instrument for assessing socio-cultural resistance to, and support for, science that can be employed in efforts to quantitatively document the presence or absence of significant cultural concerns.

Average Review: 3 (3.0)

Supplemental Information:

Assessment Type:

60 multiple choice questions


5-point Likert scale (strongly disagree, neutral, strongly agree)

Publication Date:

Dec 28, 2000


PreK-2nd grade

Domain(s) Evaluated:

Attitude / Behavior

Sample items:

Scientific knowledge has often contributed to the destruction of our environment and natural resources.
a. Strongly Disagree
b. Disagree
c. Unsure
d. Agree
e. Strongly Agree


Scale reliabilities = range 0.64 to 0.99





Administration time:

25 minutes

Requires a Computer:


Requires Internet Access:


Primary reference:

Cobern, W. W. (2000). The Thinking about Science Survey Instrument (TSSI) SLCSP 151.Kalamazoo, MI: Scientific Literacy and Cultural Studies Project


The tool is designed to provide a profile of how people evaluate science vis-a-vis other important aspects of culture. While the subjects of the original studies were preservice elementary teachers, the tool could be used with anyone whose reading level equals the readability of the instrument.

Other Reference:
Fulmer, G. W. (2014). Undergraduates' Attitudes Toward Science and Their Epistemological Beliefs: Positive Effects of Certainty and Authority Beliefs. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 23, 198-206.

This study made use of TSSI. Reliability and validity were assessed in context to the other assessment measure used, EBI (Epistemic Belief Inventory). The study makes reference to many other current studies having used the assessment (TSSI) which suggests its acceptability and accuracy. Rasch modeling was used, it compared the degree of fit between observed students response data and predicted values by the model, therefore only scales that show acceptable model fit and reliability are retained. Rasch showed the two scales to not be unidimensional and did cluster around functional dimensions as expected. All three subscale of TSSI had acceptable item functionality and so were retained. The scale reliabilities showed improvement could be possible however were generally acceptable (range from 0.64 to 0.99).

STEM Criteria








Learn how to Obtain this Assessment Tool

Bill Cobern, PhD Phone: (269) 387-5407 Fax: 269-387-4998