Overall Rating Silver - expired
Overall Score 57.66
Liaison Michael Kensler
Submission Date Jan. 23, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Auburn University
AC-6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 4.00 Nanette Chadwick
Director, Academic Sustainability Programs
Biological Sciences
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution conduct an assessment of the sustainability literacy of its students (i.e. an assessment focused on student knowledge of sustainability topics and challenges)?:

Which of the following best describes the literacy assessment? The assessment is administered to::
A subset of students or a sample that may not be representative of the predominant student body

Which of the following best describes the structure of the assessment? The assessment is administered as a::
Pre- and post-assessment to the same cohort or to representative samples in both a pre- and post-test

A copy of the questions included in the sustainability literacy assessment(s):
A sample of the questions included in the sustainability literacy assessment or the website URL where the assessment tool may be found:

See the file attached, which lists the pre- and post-test questions administered to students enrolled in the course SUST 2000 Introduction to Sustainability and in the course HONR 1027 Sustainability in the Modern World. These questions were administered to all students at the start of the semester in these courses, during each semester for 3 years (2016-18), for a total of 9 courses where this literacy assessment was administered (HONR 1027 was offered only each fall semester, but SUST 2000 was offered both fall and spring each year). See details below.

A brief description of how the literacy assessment was developed and/or when it was adopted:

These assessment questions were developed as part of the Auburn University Core Curriculum assessment process. Originally this process involved assessing student learning outcomes in HONR 1027 Sustainability and the Modern World, which was a course option in the Social Science core. As of Fall 2015, SUST 2000 Introduction to Sustainability also was added to the core curriculum as a social science option, and we began to assess student learning outcomes in that course as well.
As such, we have now administered a sustainability literacy assessment to all students in both SUST 2000 and HONR 1027 for the past 3 years, which includes the students in a total of 9 courses, for a total of ~600 students assessed over 3 years.

A brief description of how a representative sample was reached (if applicable) and how the assessment(s) were administered :

The assessments were administered as a pre- and post-test process. On the first day of class, in the above 2 courses, students were given a list of 6 (later expanded to 10) multiple-choice questions to answer. These were collected and scored. Then as part of the final exam for the course, the same 6-10 questions were given to the students, and the results scored. The percent of students who answered each question correctly at the beginning and end of the course were compared, to assess their sustainability literacy before and after taking the course.

A brief summary of results from the literacy assessment(s), including a description of any measurable changes over time:

In general, a majority of the students answered most of the questions correctly at the beginning of each class. However, the percent who answered correctly ranged from barely over 50%, to about 95% depending on the question, at the beginning of each course. Then at the end of the course, > 90% of students answered all 6-10 questions correctly. This indicated that: (1) students entered these courses with some literacy about sustainability definitions, scope, and major issues, and (2) after students completed these courses, their sustainability literacy greatly improved, such that almost all of them were able to correctly answer the given questions about scope, definitions, and major issues related to sustainability.
We found that over the past 8 years (including 5 years of assessment prior to 2018, and another 3 years of assessment during the present reporting period of 2016-18), the percent of students answering the questions correctly at the start of each course has gradually increased, indicating that an increasing number appear to be gaining some basic sustainability literacy before taking these courses. This trend suggests that students are increasingly gaining a certain level of sustainability literacy outside of class, and even before entering the university.
We have been improving our pre- and post-test process over the past few years, to become more sophisticated and nuanced, and to include more questions (an increase from 6 to 10 questions asked) so that we can better assess which major aspects of sustainability literacy the students are gaining from these courses.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

NOTE: On the Core Curriculum website listed above, select Social Science, to see both SUST 2000 and HONR listed as options in the core curriculum.
Also NOTE about the percentage of students assessed for sustainability literacy:
A total of ~ 600 students were assessed, in the context of honors sustainability courses, over the past 3 years at Auburn (2016-18). This is a small percent of the total enrolled student body at Auburn which is ~29,000 undergraduates. The honors and regular sustainability course are electives (not required courses, but can be used toward social science core requirements), and the honors course is limited to students in the Honors College, leading to this quite small percentage of students who have been assessed over the past 3 years. However, the regular introduction to sustainability course, SUST 2000, was also approved recently as a social science option in the core curriculum, so the number of students enrolling each semester in this course, and being assessed for sustainability literacy, has greatly increased over the past few years, from only ~ 100 students assessed during 2015, to ~ 200 students assessed during 2018.

To receive background data tables, student scores and more information about recent sustainability literacy assessment reports, contact the Director of Academic Sustainability Programs, Dr. Nanette Chadwick, at chadwick@auburn.edu

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.