Western Australian high school students' attitudes towards biotechnology processes
Institute of Biology
Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences
School of Education
This study reports on the attitudes towards biotechnology of 905, 15–16 year-old students from 11 Western Australian schools. Students were asked to read 15 statements about biotechnology processes and to draw a line to separate what they considered ‘acceptable’ statements from those they considered ‘unacceptable’. Overall, the students hold a wide range of beliefs about what is an acceptable use of biotechnology. Their attitudes range from those of the 55 (6.0%) students who do not agree with the use of any living organisms in biotechnology to the 125 (14%) students who approve of all the stated uses of biotechnology, with a wide spread in between. Acceptance of the use of organisms in biotechnology decreases as we move from microorganisms (>90%approval) to plants (71–82%) to humans (42–45%) and animals (34–40%). The attitudes of 99 students who recently studied biotechnology and have a good understanding of the processes and issues were similar in percentage and spread to those who were less informed.