questionnaire translation guide

Acknowledging that different phrases fit different languages to different extents, the following guide is intended to give you a “feeling” of the questionnaire you are about to translate. We would like to ask you to first read this manual and then proceed with the translation. In this manual, words in italics represent quotations from the questionnaire to be translated.

Three points pertaining to the entire questionnaire follow:
  1. Please make sure that both genders be represented in each question. In English, “scientists” refers to both men and women; in other languages (such as Greek), there are different words for “men scientists” and for “women.” If your language falls in this category, please include both words in each item. For instance, in item 4 (Part I), the intended meaning is “In their research, men scientists and women scientists are influenced by conditions…”
  2. Please make sure that the questions refer to natural sciences only. While in English “science” is used to refer to “natural sciences” only, in other languages such an explanation may be needed, to distinguish, from instance, from social sciences. If such an issue arises in your language, please make sure that you refer to “natural science” in particular. On the other hand, although there are more than one “natural sciences” (such as physics and chemistry), the questionnaire is intended to refer to all of them (or to whichever the participant finds applicable).
  3. In the first versions of the questionnaire, we used different phrasing for participants of different age groups. However, the result was mostly confusion for the older participants. Therefore, this final version is one and the same for all age groups. This should be kept in mind when translating items in your language. These should be phrased so that the questionnaire is accessible to 10 year olds or older participants.

What follows is a number of explanations concerning specific aspects of the questionnaire.
This leaflet is not a knowledge test, but just a questionnaire. In this kind of questionnaires, there is no right or wrong answer. Different persons may give different answers. Please, answer honestly the questions in this and the following pages.

It is important to stress that the questionnaire to be completed is not intended to evaluate the participants’ knowledge and is, thus, not related to their evaluation by the teachers. Because it is NOT a knowledge test, answers are not “right” or “wrong” but may be “different.” As people differ in many ways, their answers may also be different (for instance, some people believe that French fries are their favorite food, while others do not – there is nothing wrong with either answer).
Therefore, looking for the “right” answer is not something of interest for us. For us, it is more important to have honest answers representing what the participants really believe and not what they think that their teacher would like them to believe. This is the general background out of which the overall instructions emerged.
Thank you very much!

Please make sure you include a “thank you” note at the beginning of this leaflet.

Part I.
For each of the following sentences, mark with an X the box that best corresponds how much you agree or disagree with the sentence. The possible answers are: “no”, “rather no”, “not sure”, “rather yes” and “yes”.
This part includes 22 statements. The participants are asked to mark a box using an X or other appropriate sign to show how much they agree or disagree with each statement. The answers are given on a 5-point Likert-type scale. Please use any format of the answers continuum that is appropriate for your language, as long as it has 5 options ranging from “totally disagree” to “totally agree” (or other appropriate extremes).
  1. In science, most questions have only one right answer.
Do the participants believe that science can provide definite answers to scientific questions? This statement is related to the issue of whether there is one “truth” and whether science can uncover it.
  1. If you read something in a science book, then it is certainly true.
Do the participants always take the scientists’ views as correct? Are scientists viewed as authorities in answering scientific questions? Is it legitimate to question what we read in science books? This statement may be related also to questions on whether scientific answers change or not. For instance, if I read something in an old science book, can I be sure it is correct? What if a newer book gives a different answer?
  1. Science helps us understand the world.
This statement distances itself from the “truth” referred to in the previous items. Here, science is not intended to uncover truth but to help us understand the world. Note that “uncovering the truth” and “understanding the world” are two distinct things. On the one hand, truth (if it exists) is one and unchangeable; on the other hand, understanding the world is much more subjective and changeable.
  1. In their research, scientists are influenced by the conditions of their time. For example, by economy, politics, religion, arts.
  2. In their research, scientists are influenced by the conditions of their lives. For example, by their family, their financial condition, the place where the live.

Do the participants believe that scientific research is “pure,” i.e., not affected by anything but scientific knowledge? Item 4 refers to the historical and social context (macro factors) of scientific research while item 5 refers to micro factors extending only to the conditions of the scientist’s life. Examples of macro factors include economy, politics, religion, and arts, while examples of micro factors include family, financial condition, place of residence.
  1. In science, what is accepted as true remains always the same.
Alternatively, “In science, what is accepted as true never changes.” This statement concerns the time evolution of scientific answers. “What is accepted as true” replaced the previous “truth” in order to heal epistemological issues on whether there is a “truth” that would remain unchanged.
  1. Different scientists may explain the same thing in different ways.
Unlike the previous statement that has an explicit reference to time, this statement refers to the multiplicity of the scientific explanations, which may or may not imply reference to time. Thus, different scientists may represent different times but also contemporary scientists may disagree with each other.
  1. When starting their research, scientists have some ideas about their research in their minds in advance.
This statement refers to the preconceptions that scientists may have before they start their research.
  1. How scientists explain something may change in time.
This item is related to item 6 in that it takes time into account. On the other hand, here the existence of a “truth” is not implied, since the scientists’ work is that of “explaining things” (also compare the difference between items 2 and 3).
  1. New scientific interpretations may replace the old ones in the light of new evidence.
This question also takes time into account but adds the importance of new evidence; thus, new interpretations are not a matter of changing one’s mind (as may be the case in item 9) but of gathering new data (e.g., in the light of new methods or experimental material).
  1. All scientists follow the same scientific method.
Although research practice acknowledges the existence of different research methods, most European curricula refer to one and the same scientific method. This item refers to this discrepancy.
  1. Scientists do research in different ways.
This statement resembles the previous one in that it refers to the ways research is done. However, it is included as a different statement because it does not refer to the one scientific method implied in the curricula but in the “ways” in general that may also include other things (ΟΠΩΣ;!).
  1. Science helps to make our lives healthier, easier and more comfortable.
This statement refers to the usefulness of science. We are interested in the effects of science on health, ease, and comfort. Who decides on these effects (is it we who are making decisions on what to eat and on what not to eat? Is it the scientists who are making healthier foods?) is not important in this statement (but is important further down in statement 18). Feel free to transform the statement, maybe by including more sentences, as best fits your language.
  1. Science is the same all over the world.
This statement taps on the universality of science. The general term “science” is used here and this may refer to objects, methods, or interpretations of science.
  1. Science is only for men.
Is science… a male domain? … a domain in which only men should work? … a domain in which only men may excel?
  1. Science is only for women.
Is science… a female domain? … a domain in which only women should work? … a domain in which only women may excel? Note that this item is NOT a repetition of the previous statement. If the participant answers “do not agree” with the statement “science is only for men”, this does not mean that science is only for women, but, most possibly, that science is for both genders. Therefore, answering “no” to statement 15 does not necessarily mean that the participant will answer “yes” to statement 16.
  1. Science is only for clever people.
Similar to the previous statement, this one taps on possible discriminations against doing science. For instance, some people often say that they are not “clever enough” to do mathematics.
  1. The things we learn from science may help us make decisions in everyday life.
This statement is similar to item 13 in that it refers to the usefulness of science. However, it differs from that in that it refers in particular to decisions we (referring to lay people) make in everyday life. “We” here could be replaced with “people” depending on what sounds better in each language. What is important is that this word refers to the non-scientists.
  1. We all need to know something about science, no matter whether we need it in our work or not.
This statement is intended to measure the extent to which one needs to know (for reasons of practicality, of understanding the world, or other) some things about science, even though s/he may not need it for their work. For instance, some people say “I will not do research, therefore I do not need to know statistics”.
  1. The way scientists work is influenced by what other people consider important.
Do the participants acknowledge the importance of contemporary values in the way scientists work?
  1. The way scientists work is influenced by what other people want.
This statement is very much similar to the previous one but taps on wishes rather than on values.
  1. We are all responsible for the way scientific research results are used in everyday life.
Some people believe that it is the scientists’ responsibility to safeguard or guarantee the ways in which their findings are used in everyday life. Do the participants agree with this? For instance, once a scientist finds how to clone people is it his/her responsibility to decide whether parents who lost their child can “clone” the deceased? The nuclear power and nuclear bomb is another example.

Part II
This part of the questionnaire has a different format than the previous one. Here, each item consists of two sentences that describe two contrasting types of persons. The aim of such a format is to reduce the effects of social desirability: An individual may be more like one or more like the other kind of persons, and both kinds of persons are common. The instructions describe a two-fold process in answering this part of the questionnaire: First, the person decides which of the two contrasting kinds of persons resembles him/her more (the one on the left or the one on the right side), and, second, decides how much this kind of person resembles him. Thus, in each line, only one box should be marked (either on the left or on the right side).

In the following items, we refer to science in three ways:
  1. “in science courses” refers to all work (including class work, home work, or personal thinking) related to science courses
  2. “during science courses” refers to class work only
  3. “in science” refers to the field of knowledge related to science, no matter whether this knowledge comes from science courses or other sources.

Only the type on the left is explained further down. The type on the right is the same with a negation added or removed as appropriate.
  1. Some people like finding out by themselves what to do in science courses but other people do not like finding out by themselves what to do in science courses.
The verb “finding out” here means “discovering” or “finding.” If a person does not like finding out by themselves what to do in science courses, it means that s/he prefers having other people (e.g., the teacher, the class mates) telling them what to do.
  1. Some people do not like their teacher telling them what to do in science courses
This item resembles the previous item but refers only to the teacher telling the person what to do.
  1. Some people like finding out by themselves what happens in science courses
The difference from item 1 is that here the point is one of finding what happens (what takes place) in science courses – this is mostly related to understanding/interpreting what takes place in science courses.
  1. Some people like working alone in science courses
Stated differently, some people do not like cooperating with classmates or with their teacher.
  1. Some people do not like working with friends in science courses
Resembles to the previous item, but refers only to friends as people with whom to work.
  1. Some people do not like discussing their ideas with their teacher during their science course
Discussing refers to exchanging ideas, talking about their ideas. People who do not like discussing their ideas with their teacher may like to keep their ideas for themselves, not having them criticized or questioned. Note the difference with the previous items (here “during their science course” instead of “in science courses”).
  1. Some people like discussing their ideas with their friends during their science courses
Similar to previous items
  1. Some people find it difficult to discover new things in science courses
The important points in this item are: “difficulty” and “discovering new things” not referring to learning by heart given knowledge.
  1. Some people believe that they have to do too much work in science courses.
This item refers to the perceived requirements of the science courses.
  1. Some people do very well in science courses.
Does not necessarily refer to the grades, but also to the overall presence of the student in the related courses.
  1. For some people, science is one of their favorite courses.
Some people find science one of their favorite courses / Some people prefer the science courses to other courses.
  1. Some people believe that they are as good in science as their peers.
This item resembles to item 10 in that it refers to how good people are in science. However, in this item, social comparison is essential. That is, being “objectively” good is not the point; the point is one of being equally good (not better or worse) in science.
  1. Some people find it difficult to understand anything related to science.
This item resembles to item 8 in that they both refer to difficulty. What is different between the two items, however, is that item 8 refers to discovering new knowledge, while item 13 refers to understanding knowledge that is already known.
  1. Some people do not like science courses at all.
This item is related to item 11 in that it refers to liking science courses. However, this item is not about comparing this to other courses.

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