Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 62.34
Liaison Christie-Joy Hartman
Submission Date Jan. 27, 2022

STARS v2.2

James Madison University
AC-6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Christine DeMars
Professor and Senior Assessment Specialist
Graduate Psychology and Center for Assessment and Research
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

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::
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 list or sample of the questions included in the sustainability literacy assessment or the website URL where the assessment tool may be found:

The assessment is administered to a representative sample.

Sample questions are below. The full test contains 45 items. The remaining items, which are confidential, are similar.

1. Based on the graph below [graph], which sector of the US economy had the largest decrease in emissions from 1990 to 2008?
a) Agriculture
b) Industry
c) Electricity generation
d) Transportation

2. The tragedy of the commons refers to situations where individuals, acting in their own self-interest, can ultimately deplete a shared limited resource even though exploitation of shared resources is harmful to everyone. Consider the example of crab fishing in Alaska. In an effort to protect limited resources, regulators have shortened the fishing season to less than a week per year. As a result, fishermen all deliver their catch at the same time. This frenetic race to catch as much as possible in this short window of time results in lowered prices for the fisherman, increased costs to the fishermen, and increased danger for fishermen. And even with the very short season in place, the total catch may still be above the sustainable limit. In this case, which of the following strategies might potentially overcome the dilemmas inherent in this tragedy of the commons?
a) Increase the length of the season and at the same time increase the cost of all fishing licenses.
b) Shorten the length of the season and at the same time increase the cost of all fishing licenses.
c) Convene community meetings and trust the individuals to equitably maintain the resource.
d) Lengthen the season and issue individual quotas for total season catch limits.

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

A subcommittee of the JMU Institute for Stewardship of the Natural World Education and Scholarship Committee created the instrument. Faculty from multiple disciplines and staff participated in the instrument creation.

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

Incoming first-year students are required to participate in an assessment day. They are randomly assigned to assessments, of which the Environmental Stewardship Reasoning and Knowledge Assessment (ESRKA) is one, by the last digits of their student ID numbers. This random assignment ensures the samples are representative of the student body. 18 months later, students take the same assessments. Assessments are administered in proctored conditions.

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

Of the 1st year students tested in Fall 2017, 611 were post-tested in Spring 2019, with an average gain of 4.5 percentage points. The test form was revised again. The 911 students post-tested in Spring 2020 did not take the same test form as a pre-test, so instead they were compared to a random sample of 1106 pre-test students from Fall 2019. The mean score difference was 4.8 percentage points.

Website URL where information about the sustainability literacy assessment is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

The reliability of the scores (coefficient alpha) was .83 in spring 2020. Students have myriad opportunities to learn the objectives. Cluster 3 courses include sustainability literacy as a learning objective, but not all students have completed Cluster 3 courses by the time of the post-test. In Spring 2020, students who had completed at least one of the Cluster 3 courses scored an average of 68.1%, compared to 65.3% for students who had not completed a course.

Assessment Day FAQ: https://www.jmu.edu/assessment/AcademicProgram/ADay/aboutAdaySTU.shtml#attend

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.