Overall Rating Reporter
Overall Score
Liaison Megan Curtis-Murphy
Submission Date May 28, 2021
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Northeastern University
AC-6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete Reporter Casey Shetterly
Special Projects - Sustainability
"---" 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:

In Fall of 2020 the Sustainability office and Office of Institutional Research began surveying a sample of incoming undergraduate freshmen regarding their knowledge of sustainability concepts. The survey plan includes follow up of the same subset of students in their senior year and to continue to survey incoming students and determining their base knowledge upon arrival and as they prepare to graduate. We expect the survey to assist us to improve programming across academic disciplines and in the sustainability office's general engagement with student groups and extracurricular activities.

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

The survey was distributed to a randomly selected target population of traditional first-, second-, and third-year undergraduate students in order to receive a sample size of 373 responses (confidence level of 95% and a margin of error of 5%). The survey sample demographics mirrored survey population at large, with insignificant differences across some categories.

The web-based instrument, which takes about 10 minutes to complete, was emailed via Qualtrics to the students. A letter accompanied each survey requesting the student’s voluntary participation, ensuring confidentiality, and explaining the survey’s purpose. No incentives were offered. Two follow-up messages were sent during the data collection period to remind students to complete the survey. Upon completion of the data collection, results were extracted from Qualtrics and statistical analyses such as frequencies, cross-tabulations, and mean averages of the responses were performed.

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

No measurable changes are available at this point. The sustainability literacy survey has been introduced in 2020 with the intent to collect data annually to achieve longitudinal data. This year’s results demonstrated that students are greatly familiar with general sustainability concepts such as life cycle assessment, biodiversity, greenhouse gases, urban heat island effect, and recognize properly benefits of waste reduction and reuse, major threats to biodiversity, ways to reduce global emission. The least familiar concepts reported were knowledge of the triple bottom line, carbon footprint, and ecosystem services (less than 60%). Survey findings suggest that, in general, domestic students performed much better in this survey, while there was no significant difference in choosing the correct answer between female and male students and among students of different race and ethnicity.

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