|Submission Date||March 5, 2021|
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
AC-6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment
|4.00 / 4.00||
Office of Sustainability
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::
Which of the following best describes the structure of the assessment? The assessment is administered as a::
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:
see attached file
A brief description of how the literacy assessment was developed and/or when it was adopted:
This assessment was developed and administered in 201 by by the Office of Sustainability with assistance from Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, Robin Lewis and Dean of Student Engagement and Conduct, Brandon Barile. Our current survey builds on the sustainability literacy research conducted by Robin Lewis. We reanalyzed those questions, added questions related so sustainability culture on campus, and then compiled a list of possible questions for feedback from other faculty members in the Environmental Science dept. Following their feedback, the new Sustainability Literacy and Culture Survey 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 :
This research involves the administration a pre- and post-survey on the HWS campus. The target population was all first-year students and other students, faculty or staff who are interested in taking the survey.
To get a representative sample that includes every major, minor, race, gender, and economic background we have elected to administer the pre-surveys with in person visits to every First-Year Seminar class. After the majority of the first-year class was given the survey, we emailed out the survey to the sophomore, junior, and senior classes. Participation rate in the other groups was around 20%. To motivate individuals less interested in sustainability, raffle prizes were offered to anyone who completed the survey. The post-survey for first-year students was done by collaborating with RA's from the residential halls. We would visit the dorms during scheduled evening programs and and requested a few mins to have the first-year students retake survey. Students were not required to attend their evening program so our post survey was around 50% of the first year class. For sophomore, junior, and senior classes as well as all faculty and staff the same email method was use with around 10-20% response rate.
A brief summary of results from the literacy assessment(s):
We first compared the 4 first-year seminars (FSEM) that had a sustainable focus (Politics, Inequality & Climate Change, Parched: Past, Present, Future of Water, Climate Change: Science and Politics, Sustainable Living and Learning) to those that did not. The results from the sustainable FSEMs showed 6 out of 14 assessment questions had >70% students selecting the right answers compared to only 4 out of 14 in non-sustainable FSEMs. However, in the post-surveys the sustainable FSEMs had 12 out of 14 questions with >70% students selecting the correct answer, whereas that number only increased to 6 out of 14 in the non-sustainable. This shows that while those students already started school with a higher degree of sustainability knowledge their FSEM also filled in many of the areas they were lacking and provided a great boost to their score compared to non-sustainability FSEMs.
When comparing upper class students to our first year students, they showed a much better grasp of sustainability knowledge in the pre-survey. But there was not change between their pre and post survey. In both cases, 10 out of 14 questions had 70% or more students selecting the correct answer.
One question that never achieved greater than a 70% correct answer rate was "What are the three P's of sustainability? Otherwise known as the Triple Bottom Line." This was a surprising outcome and underscores the need to explain sustainability is not just about environmental protection, but that economic viability and social equity are just as important.
Over the summer the Office of Sustainability is creating a report highlighting major findings and changes that will be made to our programming and initiatives based on the results of this survey. We will pass this information to the entire campus community. One goal is we hope to get all FSEMs to integrate sustainability into their discussions and provide a strong basis for all students as they spend the next three years here completing their degrees.
Website URL where information about the sustainability literacy assessment 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.