Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Education (EdD)



Department name when degree awarded

Curriculum Development and Supervision (Consumer Education)

Committee Chair(s)

James P. Shaver


James P. Shaver


The assessment of consumer awareness is important to : l) identify awareness needs of adults, 2) design programs to meet those needs, and 3) assess changes in consumer awareness as a result of participation in such programs. A search of the literature failed to identify an instrument using recall rather than recognition to assess adult consumer awareness of sources of product/service information, existing consumer protection laws, and possible channels of recourse.

The purpose of this research was to develop a reliable and valid instrument to measure the consumer awareness of adults. The test development study involved 32 respondents from one pre-existing adult group in Northern California, and the construct validation study involved 168 respondents from ten other groups.

The complete Test of Consumer Awareness for Adults (TCAA) includes twenty-eight mini-case studies and requires 84 responses . Each mini-case is based on one or more of the 30 consumer problems identified by a national panel of fifteen consumer educators and advocates as being most troublesome to consumers.

Respondents were asked to list sources of product/ service information, tell how consumers are protected by law, and identify local channels of consumer recourse for each mini-case. Multiple matrix sampling was used to form four sub-tests, with seven mini- c as e s and 21 responses each, to avoid problems of examinee fatigue and hostility , and t o reduce the time required to administer the test. No significant difference was found between m e an scores on the complete test and estimated total mean scores based on sub-test scores.

Two reliability coefficients w ere computed. A measure of internal consistency produced a coefficient alpha of. 95, and a test-retest, over four weeks, with alternate test forms produced a Pearson r correlation coefficient of .73.

Information, law, and recourse scores were summed to produce total scores. Low total scores were predominant. From a possible total score of 21, the mean score was 6. 33. Five respondents scored 15 or higher (two standard deviations above the mean), while 94 respondents scored 6 or less.

Nine hypotheses were tested for evidence of a relationship between scores on the TCAA and:

1. Having taken a consumer education class;

2. Level of education attained;

3. Level of annual income;

4. Occupation;

S. Having filed a consumer complaint;

6. Marital status;

7. Length of time married;

8. Current labor force attachment of women;

9. Population level of place of residence.

Analysis o f variance was used to determine whether the re was a significant difference in mean consumer awareness scores when scores were categorized into appropriate subgroups for each variable.

There were significant differences (p < .01) in mean consumer awareness scores among the subgroups for four variables:

1. Having taken a consumer education class;

2. Level of education attained;

3 . Current labor force attachment of women;

4. Population level of place of residence.

Each student in a university consumer course investigated three consumer problems so that the influence of teaching method on consumer awareness scores could be evaluated. With the TCAA used as a pretest and posttest, a statistically significant increase in the group's mean score was noted. Students in the class participating in the investigations had significantly higher TCAA scores than those students in a similar class which had not participated in the investigations .

The TCAA is unique among available instruments in that it relies on recall rather than recognition to assess consumer awareness. It is posited that the reliance on recall makes the test a closer approximation of consumer behavior in an actual marketplace situation than a test that only requires a respondent to recognize the correct solution to a problem.