Overall Rating Platinum - expired
Overall Score 85.56
Liaison Tonie Miyamoto
Submission Date Feb. 7, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Colorado State University
AC-6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Tonie Miyamoto
Director of Communications and Sustainability
Housing and Dining Services
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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::
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 sample of the questions included in the sustainability literacy assessment or the website URL where the assessment tool may be found:

See full list questions on the attached survey.

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

The CSU Sustainability Literacy Assessment (SLA) was developed by Renee Harmon, PhD Candidate in CSU’s School of Education, in collaboration with the President's Sustainability Committee in Fall 2014. It included feedback from the larger CSU community and a review by faculty, staff, and student representatives.

The results of the CSU 2014 SLA informed the researcher of needed revisions, leading to developing the CSU 2016 SLA. The 2016 SLA follows the concepts of Elkington’s (2004) triple bottom line (TBL). Along with providing demographic information, participants answer questions about economic sustainability, environmental sustainability, and social sustainability.

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

A representative sample of 5,100 CSU students (about 20%) received email invitations to participate in the CSU 2016 SLA. In Spring 2016 CSU’s resident instruction student population was 25,787. The assessment ran from February 10, 2016 until March 28, 2016. Students received an initial email invitation, and two reminder emails were sent to those who did not participate.

Students who selected to participate in the CSU 2016 SLA were directed to click on a link and to agree to a consent form. Those that agreed to the consent form were asked to self-select from a scale of 1-10 their perceived level of sustainability knowledge, with 1 representing a low level of sustainability knowledge and 10 representing a high level of sustainability knowledge. Participants were then directed to take the assessment.

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

Colorado State University (CSU) assessed students’ sustainability literacy in February 2016 through the use of a multiple-choice sustainability literacy assessment (SLA). The SLA was electronically distributed to 5,100 undergraduate and graduate students, roughly 20% of CSU’s student body. There were 473 participants who fully-completed the SLA for a 9.27% response rate.

Using the model of the Triple Bottom Line (TBL), the SLA was developed with questions related to environmental sustainability, economic sustainability, and social sustainability. The SLA also asked students to identify the definitions of sustainability and the TBL. Upon review it was found that CSU students ranked highest in answering items related to environmental sustainability literacy, which aligns with the University’s strong focus towards conservation and environmental research; second in items related to economic sustainability literacy, and third in items related social sustainability literacy.

The SLA results provide the University with valuable information to help guide the future of sustainability education at CSU. For example, while the majority of students (89%) correctly responded to the question asking the definition of sustainability, less than a quarter of participants answered correctly for defining the TBL. This result informs CSU that while students are scoring high in items of environmental sustainability (almost 80%), the students might need more education in regards to economic and social sustainability. Additionally, the results show a need to development more sustainability education that addresses the connections of the TBL.

To see how the CSU general population (2016 SLA participants) compared to students enrolled in a sustainability topics course, the SLA was distributed to graduate-level students enrolled in a Global Environmental Sustainability (GES) course in Spring 2017. Students in the GES course scored higher on the SLA overall by about 10%, however their results for environmental sustainability literacy were almost equal to the general population. Interestingly, the GES students scored highest in items related to economic sustainability than any other category. The GES students scored the lowest in items related to social sustainability, showing this is an educational opportunity area at CSU.

CSU also wanted to see how students in 2016 compared to students who took a similar SLA in 2014. Overall, the comparison showed students’ sustainability literacy levels were about the same, however a few questions had either a 10% increase or decrease in correct answers. Results from both SLAs are being analyzed to assist in revising the SLA instrument to insure questions are appropriate in determining students’ sustainability literacy levels. These findings, along with the revised SLA instrument will be published at a later time.

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

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