|Submission Date||March 16, 2018|
California State University, Monterey Bay
AC-6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment
|1.00 / 4.00||
Campus Planning and Development
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::
Which of the following best describes the structure of the assessment? The assessment is administered as a::
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:
Student from a representative sample of primarily first and second year students were administered the Sustainability Literacy Assessment (SULITE) www. sulitest.org
A brief description of how the literacy assessment was developed and/or when it was adopted:
The main ambition of the Sulitest project is to measure and improve Sustainability Literacy: “the knowledge, skills, and mindsets that help compel an individual to become deeply committed to building a sustainable future and allow him or her to make informed and effective decisions to this end”.
The key criteria that drove the creation of the Sulitest platform were - and still are - the following:
Questions must assess an individual's current knowledge of Sustainable Development, but they should also teach and inform, motivate to learn more and act!
The overall experience of taking the Test should help learners “understand the big picture”, as well as “be touched and inspired by specific stories or facts”; while simultaneously avoiding the trap of reproducing or memorizing lists of facts, figures, issues and challenges without making connections between them.
Create a Test that does not overwhelm with the number of questions (30). The focus is on various perspectives and topics, keeping the balance between alarming news and inspiring actions.
To reach these ambitious objectives, the test is designed with (1) a coherent, pedagogical and systemic framework (2) a list of tags and keywords to build a database of questions tthat ensure an appropriate balance among all relevant topics.
A brief description of how a representative sample was reached (if applicable) and how the assessment(s) were administered :
We utilized an existing sustainability literacy test from Sulitest.org, which is used by universities
around the world to evaluate students’ knowledge about sustainability in a range of measures. We
also developed a short survey about CSUMB sustainability – including questions about exposure to
sustainability through courses, co-curricular programs, and campus infrastructure. We also invited
students to participate in a focus group to discuss their perceptions of sustainability, the Sulitest
questions, and campus sustainability.
To obtain access to students, we asked faculty from A4 General Education courses across campus to
participate in the study. A total of 12 courses across 9 departments agreed to participate. In early
February, we introduced the study in one class and obtained student consent to participate. A total
of 176 out of 294 students (60%) agreed to participate from these courses. Two to three weeks
later, we administered the test and survey in-class and held the focus group at the conclusion of the
test administration. On the days administered, a total of 107 students (36%) participated in the test
and survey, and 4 participated in the focus group. We believe this attrition was due in part to the
timing of the test administration, as students had reached a higher workload/curricular demand by
the end of February. Some students also began to take the test but did not complete it because it
was “too hard” or “too long.”
A brief summary of results from the literacy assessment(s), including a description of any measurable changes over time:
Comprehensive results are attached by method and mode of analysis in the appendices to this
report. Overall, we found the following:
● CSUMB students performed similarly to other campuses in the United States and worse than
students from campuses in other countries.
● CSUMB students who had taken a course that taught sustainability performed better on the
test. This was true for students in COS and non-COS majors. No matter what the student’s
major, 95% of students listed that a COS course had influenced their sustainability literacy.
● CSUMB students enrolled in College of Science courses showed a higher average score on
the Sulitest than those in a non-COS course. There was an estimated difference of 21.4
points with a 95% Confidence Interval (3.9, 38.9) and p-value of 0.009.
● Seniors had higher average scores than first year students. However, there was no
statistical relationship between test performance and number of years at CSUMB. (Transfer
students performed equally well on average when compared to students who spent their
first and second years at CSUMB.)
● There was a positive association between exposure to co-curricular programs (clubs, guest
speakers, etc.) and performance on the Sulitest.
● Across majors, taking the test influenced students thinking about sustainability. Students
identified that the test provided them with a broader understanding of sustainability after
the survey, that they learned specific content knowledge, or learned about specific actions
to increase sustainability at individual or policy levels.
● In response to participating in the study, 33% of students wanted to see more curricular
integration, across all majors, and 26% wanted infrastructure improvements on campus.
We will continue this study in the coming 4 years, to evaluate sustainability on campus over time
and gather a larger pool of participants. We will revise our delivery of the test to increase
participation, since we lost a number of participants between the consent day and the survey day.
While the focus group led to interesting discussions about sustainability, we do not intend to
continue it beyond the 2017 year as it less directly supports our understanding about students’ sustainability literacy
The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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 and complete the Data Inquiry Form.
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 and complete the Data Inquiry Form.