Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 76.45
Liaison Ryan Ihrke
Submission Date Oct. 17, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Green Mountain College
AC-6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.80 / 4.00 Bill Throop
Provost's Office
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

The percentage of students assessed for sustainability literacy (directly or by representative sample) and for whom a follow-up assessment is conducted:

The percentage of students assessed for sustainability literacy (directly or by representative sample) without a follow-up assessment:

A copy of the questions included in the sustainability literacy assessment(s):

The questions included in the sustainability literacy assessment(s) :

The ELA assessment program and the graduate degree assessment programs do not have specific questions that are asked directly of the students. However, the NSSE survey given to undergraduates does have specific questions given to students. Those questions are provided here:

National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION CONSORTIUM (2013)

Academic and Intellectual Experiences

1. In your experience at your institution during the current school year, about how often have you done each of the following? 1=Never, 2=Sometimes, 3=Often, 4=Very Often
a. Completed an assignment that evaluates the sustainability of some activity.
b. Made significant contributions in a group project.
c. Integrated knowledge from multiple academic disciplines in working on a project.
d. Completed an assignment that evaluates our responsibilities to future generations.

Mental Activities

2. During the current school year, how much has your coursework emphasized the following mental activities? 1=Very little, 2=Some, 3= Quite a bit, 4= Very much
a. Understanding the complex relationships between economic, social, and ecological systems.
b. Evaluating the moral dimensions of social and environmental problems.
c. Comprehending ways in which human activities may exceed the carrying capacity of systems that support us.

Additional Collegiate Experiences

3. During the current school year, about how often have you done each of the following? 1=Never, 2=Sometimes, 3= Often, 4=Very Often
a. Participated in a campus or community sustainability project.
b. Altered your behavior to become more sustainable.
c. Went on a field trip in your bioregion.

Institutional Environment

4. To what extent does your institution emphasize each of the following? 1=Very little, 2=Some, 3= Quite a bit, 4= Very much
a. Taking responsibility for the health of your communities.
b. Learning about sustainability.
c. Understanding local economies and/or ecosystems.

Educational and Personal Growth

5. To what extent has your experience at this institution contributed to your knowledge, skills, and personal development in the following areas? 1=Very little, 2=Some, 3= Quite a bit, 4= Very much
a. Articulating a vision of a just and sustainable society.
b. Acquiring skills to lead or facilitate group activities.
c. Understanding the consequences of your choices.
d. Understanding the economic dimensions of sustainability.
e. Acquiring the skills to help organizations become more sustainable.
f. Understanding issues of social justice.
g. Persevering in achieving long-term goals despite adversity.

A brief description of how the assessment(s) were developed:

The assessments for undergraduates include a sustainability section of the NSSE survey (National Survey of Student Engagement) and a special assessment of ELA (Environmental Liberal Arts) learning outcomes.

Green Mountain College (GMC) and Luther College (LC) created the NSSE sustainability education consortium in fall 2010. GMC Provost William Throop and LC faculty member Jon Jensen developed a draft set of 20 sustainability questions to be added to the standard NSSE survey which is administered at an average of 700 colleges annually. The survey instrument was circulated to the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) board of directors for comments and to the NSSE survey team. After revisions, the survey questions were presented at the 2010 AASHE conference. The survey was administered to first year and senior students at eight colleges during spring 2011 and the data were presented at the annual AASHE conference in fall 2011. This survey provided a baseline evaluation of first year students’ sustainability understanding which was then compared to the same cohort in 2013.

Green Mountain College also assesses sustainability competencies through assessments of the general education learning outcomes for the Environmental Liberal Arts core curriculum program (ELA), which all degree-seeking undergraduates participate in. This assessment system was originally initiated in fall 2008 with the help of a grant from the Davis Educational Foundation and has since been revised by the faculty.

Graduate students in the MSFS and MBA programs are assessed for learning outcomes in sustainability as part of their normal program assessment. These assessment mechanisms were developed by the faculty committees that created the programs.

A brief description of how the assessment(s) were administered:

The NSSE survey is administered in the spring every two or three years year, both paper and web-based formats.

The assessment of the ELA learning outcomes is done by faculty in a four-year cycle. Any particular ELA class is meant to meet 4-5 of the overall ELA goals (which can be found here: http://www.greenmtn.edu/academics/ela/learning-outcomes.aspx). In each core course, they collect (using Moodle) a random sample of 30 papers/projects/exams and a small team of 2-3 faculty evaluates how students did on one or two goals each year as part of a four-year cycle. The faculty team develops a rubric that fits the particular goal(s), assesses the work, and generates a report. The report includes suggestions for improvement based on the data, and these suggestions are considered at the annual faculty workshop, as faculty discuss different strategies for improving particular courses. For distribution courses, the process is similar, though it is more of a snapshot of a particular semester’s offerings. This can be done in either semester, and the team is made up of faculty who regularly teach in that area of the distribution, but not necessarily in the same semester as the assessment. As with the core, the four-year assessment cycle requires that one goal is examined per year. After four years, each core course and distribution area gets assessed and then faculty report on all the goals. At the end of this period, a record of the percentage of graduates who meet these competencies is also available.

Additionally, students are given a writing assignment to synthesize their reflections on what they have learned during their time at GMC, especially in the ELA program and to envision how the skills and knowledge they’ve gained will enable them to meet their goals during the next ten years. For the assignment, students are asked to answer the following questions:
1. What are the local and global issues that you hope to address now and in the future? Think about specific environmental, social, and political issues that are meaningful to you. (Since reflection is best done with information, you’re expected to show research with cited sources).

2. What skills, knowledge, and character traits have you acquired that are important to your sense of what contributions you can make to your (local, national, or global) community? Reflect here about your ELA and other relevant educational experience thus far. Be specific. Keep the ELA-Delicate Balance goals in mind.

3. What skills, knowledge, and character traits do you still need to acquire in order to engage with the issues above? How will you achieve these?

Graduate students in the MSFS and MBA programs are assessed for sustainability knowledge by their respective program directors who go through and look at portfolio and capstone work and write up to what extent students meet the learning outcomes affiliated with their sustainability-focused degrees.

Learning outcomes for the MSFS (Master's in Sustainable Food Systems) include:

- Acquire a solid foundation in the historical context, economic realities, ecological considerations, policy aspects, and cultural values that have created our contemporary food systems, including regional differences.
- Develop a solid understanding of best practices in sustainable agricultural production in the vegetable, fruit, and livestock sectors, including the distinctions in production methods within different scales and bioregions.
- Develop the ability to analyze different components of a food system -- production, processing, distribution, preparation, and consumption -- in order to assess that food system's strengths and weaknesses with regard to economic, ecological, and social sustainability.
- Learn how to leverage food system change within businesses, regional communities, the nonprofit sector, and/or policymaking organizations.
- Learn to use the interdisciplinary knowledge from their masters coursework to research, analyze, and develop potential solutions for food system issues in their home bioregions.

Learning outcomes for the Sustainable MBA (Master's in Business Administration) include:

- Acquire a solid foundation in the core areas of business administration, including finance, accounting, marketing, organizational leadership, business law, and ethics; while grounding that knowledge in the relationships that define the communities in which they live and work.
- Gain the knowledge to achieve economic objectives while addressing the needs of employees, their community, and other stakeholders by focusing on the triple-bottom-line.
- Demonstrate the ability to understand the environmental and social context in which economic activity takes place.
- Acquire a thorough understanding of contemporary issues, theories, and skills related to their area of focus within sustainable business.
- Demonstrate their mastery of the above through completing an approved Capstone Project.

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

For the NSSE survey, Green Mountain College's mean responses for all 20 questions given to freshmen and seniors in 2013 exceeded the means for the Sustainability Education Consortium, our benchmark group of colleges.

The results of the ELA assessment are forthcoming as they have not yet completed the four-year cycle of evaluation. Results are expected later in 2014.

The results of the graduate program assessment are not yet publicly available. The first MSFS assessment is being completed now (2014) as the first cohort is graduating.

The website URL where information about the literacy assessment(s) is available:

The performance year is FY 2013. All undergraduates are formally assessed for sustainability literacy. The NSSE survey is given to freshmen and to seniors meeting the criteria for a follow-up assessment. The ELA assessment is given every year, but it is not constructed to provide follow up assessment of individuals. Two out of the three graduate programs (MSFS and MBA) are assessed annually for sustainability as part of the assessment of the sustainability-oriented learning outcomes associated with their programs, but these assessments only measure graduates' demonstrated achievement of the learning outcomes. The other graduate program (MSES) is assessed for skills related to sustainability, but the assessment does not meet the criteria for this credit; therefore, the MSES population is excluded from the headcount of students assessed for sustainability literacy.

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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.