Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 53.85
Liaison Vic Shelburne
Submission Date Nov. 26, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Clemson University
AC-6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 4.00 Dr. Catherine Mobley
Professor of Sociology
College of Behavioral, Social and Health 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::
Standalone evaluation without a follow-up assessment of the same cohort or representative samples

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:

As a result of burning coal and oil, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is:
- decreasing, but will not affect the earth’s environment
- decreasing, with possible serious effects on the earth’s environment
- increasing, but will not affect the earth’s environment
- increasing, with possible serious effects on the earth’s environment
- Do not know

Increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is caused by:
- extensive deforestation and burning of fossil fuels
- using aerosols and refrigerants found in air conditioners
- breakdown of inorganic substances
- using chemical fertilizers
- Do not know

How is most of the electricity in the U.S. generated?
- Burning gas, coal or wood
- Nuclear power
- Solar energy
- Hydro-electric plants
- Do not know

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

This research effort consisted of a web-based survey of Clemson University undergraduate and graduate students. The survey instrument was developed in Spring 2011 by Dr. Catherine Mobley (Department of Sociology and Anthropology) and three members of the PCS, with input from the Chair of the PCS. Survey questions were organized into the following categories (a) overall environmental attitudes, (b) environmental worldview, (c) environmental concern, (d) participation in pro-environmental behaviors, (e) basic environmental knowledge, (f) sources of information about environmental issues and sustainability, and (g) student demographic and other background characteristics. At the end of the survey, respondents were invited to provide a response to an open-ended question. This allowed students to elaborate on some of their survey responses and to provide additional information about their views on sustainability.

The study was initially approved by Clemson University’s Institutional Review Board in March 2011, with a subsequent amendment receiving approval in April 2011. Participants were provided with a consent form, which was approved by the IRB. In March 2011, the survey was piloted with approximately 20 students enrolled in an undergraduate environmental ethics course. The results of the pilot were then used to tailor the content and length of the final survey.

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

When the survey was finalized, staff from Clemson University’s Office of Institutional Research randomly selected the e-mail addresses of approximately 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students from the student database. The survey was hosted online by StudentVoice/Campus Labs, a company specializing in campus assessment efforts, A survey invitation was then e-mailed to these students under the aegis of the PCS. The initial survey invitation was sent to students on Thursday, April 21, 2011. One survey reminder was sent to students on Tuesday, April 26, five days after the initial reminder. (Appendix B includes the survey invitations). Students were able to take the survey until May 2, 2011, at which time the survey was deactivated.

A total of 386 students initiated the Spring 2011 survey. In the end, 378 students completed the survey, for a 97.9% completion rate for those students who initiated the survey. The margin of error for the survey is plus or minus 5%, at a 95% level of confidence. The overall response rate for the survey was 7.6%. While this is a rather low response rate, even for on-line surveys, it is not unheard of for campus sustainability surveys, whether they are traditional paper surveys (Kumar, Marturano, & Wang, 2011) or web-based surveys (Davidson, 2010).

A similar methodology was used to select the student sample and to deliver the survey in Fall 2012, Fall 2014 and Fall 2016. In Fall 2016, the survey was hosted on Qualtrics.

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

Results over time have not been assessed.

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.