Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 70.76
Liaison Richard Johnson
Submission Date Oct. 13, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Rice University
AC-6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 4.00 Richard Johnson
Director of Sustainability
Facilities Engineering and Planning
"---" 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)?:
Yes

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::
Standalone evaluation without a follow-up assessment of the same cohort or representative samples

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:

The sustainability literacy assessment is achieved through the combination of individual program learning outcomes, which were approved by and reported to Rice's Office of Institutional Effectiveness.

Using the minor in Environmental Studies as an example, the Environmental Studies Minor Program Learning Outcomes are:

PLO 1 - Scientific Environmental Literacy: Students will understand the fundamental science that drives earth/natural systems, and that frames and makes comprehensible current environmental issues.
PLO 2 - Social and Cultural Environmental Literacy: Students will evaluate the nexus of human activity with environmental processes to examine and understand sustainable (or unsustainable) practices.
PLO 3 - Cross-Disciplinary Perspective: Students will develop a cross-disciplinary perspective to better understand environmental issues and solutions through a focus within the natural sciences and/or engineering and a focus within the humanities, social sciences, and/or architecture.

These three outcomes, taken together, provide a wide-angle view about the student's knowledge of share sustainability challenges and solutions.

The process of reviewing these outcomes is described in the adopted Assessment Plan for the minor: in the first year of the assessment plan (the 2015-2016 academic year), "Prior to the start of the academic year, the ENST Faculty Advisory Board will share a rubric with the faculty of the foundational course ENST 100 “Environment, Culture, and Society” to ensure that the competencies specific to social and cultural environmental literacy (PLO 2) are embedded within the design of the course. After completion of the first full academic year of the minor, the Faculty Advisory Board will review the effectiveness of the foundational course ENST 100 “Environment, Culture, and Society” by sampling submitted student final papers using a rubric as a guide to determine whether students are demonstrating the competencies specific to social and cultural environmental literacy (PLO 2). If the Faculty Advisory Board determines that the competencies are not being met, they will adjust the content of the foundational course accordingly."

This example using the Environmental Studies minor is replicated across all degree programs at Rice, as every degree program is required to conduct a thorough assessment of learning outcomes as described below.


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

Every degree program at Rice - whether a major or a minor - is required by Rice Office of Institutional Effectiveness to identify a set of Program-Level Student Learning Outcomes. Further, each department (or equivalent responsible body) is required to develop an Assessment Plan to determine whether those learning outcomes are being achieved. As such, for every degree program with at least one sustainability learning outcome (a proxy for sustainability literacy), those outcomes are being systematically assessed. This is a powerful way to ensure that students who graduate from these programs have achieved the expected level of literacy about sustainability challenges and solutions.


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

The Assessment Plans, which establish the procedure for review of Program-Level Student Learning Outcomes, are administered by the academic departments or equivalent body overseeing the degree program in question. For example, the Assessment Plan for the Environmental Studies minor is overseen by the steering committee that oversees that interdisciplinary minor.


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

To continue with the Environmental Studies minor as an example, the results of the assessment were provided to Rice's Office of Institutional Effectiveness in the form of an Improvement Plan. The Improvement Plan called for more group-based work in 2 of the 3 modules of the ENST 100 foundational course so that the associated Program Learning Outcome would have better results.

This process, using the Environmental Studies minor as an example, is replicated across all degree programs at Rice. Those with sustainability included in the learning outcomes are as a result conducting a de facto sustainability literacy assessment.


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 and complete the Data Inquiry Form.