Original Research

A comparative study on knowledge and perceptions of radioactivity

Jeanne Kriek, Ilsa Basson, Corene Coetzee, Helene Muller
Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Natuurwetenskap en Tegnologie | Vol 33, No 1 | a1172 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/satnt.v33i1.1172 | © 2014 Jeanne Kriek, Ilsa Basson, Corene Coetzee, Helene Muller | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 April 2014 | Published: 13 November 2014

About the author(s)

Jeanne Kriek, Institute for Science and Technology Education, University of South Africa, South Africa
Ilsa Basson, Department of Decision Sciences, University of South Africa, South Africa
Corene Coetzee, Department of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Helene Muller, School for Interdisciplinary Research and Further Studies, University of South Africa, South Africa

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This explanatory study was done to get an understanding of how three groups of preservice teachers’ knowledge and perceptions of radiation compare to that of experts. The first group consists of students with factual radiation knowledge, due to their training. The second group is students with limited knowledge and the third group students with no official training in this area. The last group represented ordinary citizens. Experts were used as ‘yard stick’ as the participants had to answer questions where decisions and reasons had to be presented based on their knowledge. A non-equivalent ex post facto group design was used. The hypothesis that factual information shapes citizens’ decisions on certain aspects of radiation was investigated. The quantitative data collected via closed-ended questions in a Lickert questionnaire, was analysed and statistically significant differences were indicated. The qualitative data was collected as open-ended responses to the Lickert questionnaire. As expected the students with more factual knowledge compared most favourable with that of the experts where perceptions are directly related to formal education. However, this premise of knowledge was not found with regard to perceptions of health, environment, safety and risk due to a diversity of applications.


Radioaktiwiteit, onderwyser kennis, persepsies, risiko, veiligheid, besluitneming, tekortkomings model


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