Overall Rating Platinum
Overall Score 88.14
Liaison Tonie Miyamoto
Submission Date Dec. 6, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Colorado State University
AC-6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Kirstie Tedrick
Sustainability Coordinator
Housing & Dining Services
"---" 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::
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:

Colorado State University (CSU) assesses the sustainability literacy of students to evaluate the success of sustainability education initiatives. CSU offers students world-class education through eight colleges and various academic units, including the School of Global Environmental Sustainability (SoGES). Sustainability education is found in disciplines across campus. Undergraduate students have the opportunity to earn a Minor in Global Environmental Sustainability, Sustainable Water Interdisciplinary Minor, and a Peace & Reconciliation Studies Minor, among other sustainability-related degree programs. Students also have access to co-curricular sustainability education through service learning, study abroad, student organizations, community lectures, panel discussions, living labs, food drives, and other sustainability-related activities.

The assessment used in 2018 was a slightly updated version of the assessment used in 2016 (keeping as many questions as possible the same to allow for longitudinal analysis). Both assessments were given to a representative sample on campus to allow comparisons over time. Additionally, participants of the 2016 assessment were invited to complete the 2018 assessment to allow for longitudinal analysis between the last STARS report and the current. The assessment was distributed in the 2018 Fall semester.

Finally, to explore a specific sustainability education course, students from a graduate-level course were also administered the assessment in a pre- and post- assessment design. The course assessment was distributed in both spring and fall 2018 semesters.

The 2018 assessment was developed from the assessments used in 2014 and 2016. The goal of the assessment was to determine students’ knowledge of sustainability and their actions and decisions, based on sustainable living.

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 2018 assessment. Students were invited to participate in the assessment via an email invitation that was sent out by Dr. Renee Harmon. In addition, twelve students in the graduate-level sustainability course were asked to participate as part of the course’s activities and were awarded participation points for completing the assessment.

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 2018 assessment 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:

The results of the assessment provide CSU with information to help improve sustainability education at the institution. Based on the results, CSU is doing a good job educating students on environmental sustainability, but students struggle with the dimensions of economic and social sustainability. For example, among those who completed the assessment, 43% of participants in 2018 knew the definition of the Triple Bottom Line, which is the most common framework used for sustainability; however, the majority of participants either answered the question incorrectly (33%) or stated they did not know the answer (24%). This is similar to the results found in 2016, where the majority answered incorrectly.

When looking at the results of the students in the graduate-level sustainability course, 23% did not know the definition of the Triple Bottom Line during the pre-test; however, 100% knew the definition during the post-test. This result is due to students learning about the Triple Bottom Line in the course, which uses the framework for many activities. Another interesting takeaway from the results is that 63% of the participants from the representative sample stated they are not familiar with the concept of systems-thinking, which is extremely important to understanding sustainability. Yet, even though there are areas of improvement, the results show that the majority of participants “live sustainably” with many of their actions, including recycling aluminum, using a refillable water bottle, and recycling plastics.

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.