Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 58.33
Liaison Michael Amadori
Submission Date March 1, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Hobart and William Smith Colleges
AC-6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 4.00 Robin Lewis
Assistant Professor
Environmental Studies
"---" 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::
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:

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

This assessment was developed by Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Robin Lewis in coordination with other faculty members teaching in the HWS Sustainable Living and Learning Program (SLLC) for first-year students. With the help of an undergraduate research assistant, Lewis queried the literature and internet to find examples of sustainability literacy surveys. From these, Lewis and the research assistant compiled a list of possible questions and then circulated to the SLLC faculty as well as the HWS Sustainability Manager. Following their feedback, the sustainability literacy survey instrument was finalized and submitted to the HWS Institutional Review Board for review and approval.

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

Surveys are administered during the first month of the fall semester but this year we only sampled the first-years students in the sustainable learning seminar. After reading a brief disclaimer statement that explained the project as well as the roles and responsibilities of study participants, researchers provided first-year students with a paper copy of the sustainability literacy to complete over a period of 10 to 15 minutes. Once students were done, the researchers collected the completed survey instruments and returned them to Lewis for data entry. A follow-up (post) survey is administered using an online survey tool (Baseline/Campus Labs) during spring semester.

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

Students were asked asked on a 1 to 5 scale their level of concern about 12 issues of sustainability. The average concern rate went from 3.9 at the start of the year to 4.4 at the end. This shows they learned and recognized the challenges we face ahead as a society. Also, when asked about over 25 different sustainable lifestyle choices they practice their scores rose from 11.9 to 13.7 with the top five sustainability related activities/choices first-year students reported are turning off lights when not in use (85%), using a reusable water bottle (75%), practicing the three R’s (reduce/reuse/recycle; 72%), drinking tap water instead of bottled water (69%), and using reusable shopping bags (60%).

The results compared to previous years showed what appeared to be less of an impact. However, because we recently changed to only administering the survey to students in the Sustainability Living & Learning Seminar it was a group of students already inclined to live an environmentally friendly life style. So their pre scores where higher than previous year while the post scores were similar.

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

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