Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 55.42
Liaison Darcy Everett
Submission Date Feb. 18, 2020

STARS v2.2

College of Charleston
AC-6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 P Brian Fisher
CSO/Executive Director
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution conduct an assessment of the sustainability literacy of its students?:

Which of the following best describes the literacy assessment? The assessment is administered to::
The entire (or predominate) student body, directly or by representative sample

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 list or sample of the questions included in the sustainability literacy assessment or the website URL where the assessment tool may be found:

Typical questions asked of the United Nations Sulitest can be explored at sulitest.org.

The following list of sample questions model a campus-organized assessment that might be given to students before and after a lesson on sustainability literacy or at the start and end of an academic semester.

1. List the three legs of sustainability.
2. Define sustainability literacy in 1-2 sentences.
3. Describe specifically how systems thinking can address a 21st-century problem.
4. What is something you can do as an individual to be more sustainable in your daily life?
5. Is sustainability important to you, your life and/or your career goals?
6. Given your answer to Question 5, briefly explain your answer.

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

The College of Charleston currently utilizes the United Nations Sulitest, which self-populates 30 internationally normed sustainability questions. Additionally, the Sustainability Literacy Institute Assessment Team, as part of the university's Quality Enhancement Plan ("Sustainability Literacy as a Bridge to Addressing 21st-Century Problems"), developed a short survey that aims to capture both knowledge of and perceptions related to sustainability.

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

Through enrollment and participation in a First-Year Experience Synthesis Seminar, all first-year students (freshmen and transfer students) are required to take both the Sulitest and complete the university-created survey.

A brief summary of results from the literacy assessment(s):

The Sulitest was administered as a pre-test to 778 first-year students in the fall of 2018 (n=502) and spring of 2019 (n=276), and as a post-test to 12 Cougar students in the Spring of 2019. To achieve Student Learning Outcome #1 as part of the Quality Enhancement Plan (students can identify various elements of sustainability and the relationships between them), students were tested on "Sustainable Humanity and Ecosystems" and "Global and Local Human-Constructed Systems."

In the "Sustainable Humanity and Ecosystems" category, first-year students provided correct answers to an average of 41.7 percent of questions, while students enrolled in capstone courses (i.e., seniors) provided correct answers to an average of 33.3 percent of questions. Similarly, for questions from the "Global and Local Human-Constructed Systems" category, first-year students answered 43 percent correctly, while seniors answered 31.5 percent correctly.

In the second year of implementing the Quality Enhancement Plan, targets for graduating seniors were set for an average score of 59 percent or higher for "Sustainable Humanity and Ecosystems" and 58 percent or higher for "Global and Local Human-Constructed Systems" -- as well as scores at least 10 percent higher than those of first-year students taking the "pre-test."

These targets were not met. Seniors enrolled in capstone courses performed more poorly than expected compared to students enrolled in upper-level sustainability focused and related courses and performed more poorly than first-year students. Rather than gain 10 percentage points, results indicate a nearly equivalent loss.

This represents an opportunity for us moving forward to improve student scores and response rates. In 2018 and 2019, the response rate among seniors was very poor. One lesson for our team is that we must improve the response rate among graduating seniors. To improve response rates, we will ask faculty teaching sustainability related and focused courses to require the Sulitest.

Website URL where information about the sustainability literacy assessment is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

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