Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 68.81
Liaison Christa Rieck
Submission Date Jan. 4, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Houston
AC-6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Melissa Halstead
Sustainability Coordinator
Office of 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::
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 sample of the questions included in the sustainability literacy assessment or the website URL where the assessment tool may be found:

Below are sample questions of the sustainability literacy survey, followed by the link.

1. Which of the following is not typically included in defining sustainability?
a. Society
b. Economy
c. Environment
d. Government
e. Do not know
2. Please indicate your level of agreement with the following statements about your overall knowledge of carbon emissions (1= strongly disagree, 4= strongly agree; N/A =0):
a. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas.
b. Greenhouse gases absorbs infrared radiation and then radiates heat in all directions.
c. Trees and oceans absorb carbon dioxide which decreases carbon emissions in the atmosphere.
d. Burning fossil fuels (such as coal, natural gas, and oil) does not contain greenhouse gases.
e. Carbon footprint is the amount of carbon emissions emitted due to an individual’s consumption of fossil fuels.
f. Chicken and salmon leave behind less of a carbon footprint than lamb chops.
3. Please select the following states that you believe are true:
a. The University of Houston offers single stream recycling
b. Recyclable plastics are typically labeled at the bottom of containers
c. Glass can be recycled in the City of Houston
d. Styrofoam can be recycled on campus


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

The University of Houston Office of Sustainability Literacy Survey and assessment was developed using subject and content matter experts. The Office of Sustainability staff conducted research and data collection while utilizing resources from academic advisers, other higher education institutions and from the AASHE and STARS website. The assessment was adopted in fall 2018.

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

Generated from an enrollment database, a stratified random group of enrolled students were selected to receive the online survey via email. The survey administration was done through Baseline software offered by Campus Labs. The Manager of UH Services Assessment and Evaluation oversaw the assessment and administration.

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

The sustainability literacy survey results revealed participants are familiar with the core elements when defining the three pillars of sustainability (environment, economy, and society). The majority of participants were able to identify harmful carbon emissions. Approximately half of the participants understand common factors related to carbon emissions such as atmospheric absorption of greenhouse gases, as well as example methods for carbon sequestration. Participants are aware of different recycling practices offered on campus. Below are a few key findings.
• 42% of participants were able to correctly identify the 3 pillars of sustainability (environment, economy, and society)
• 89% of participants agreed that methane is a harmful greenhouse gas
• 87% of participants agreed that trees and oceans absorb carbon
• 34% of participants were unable to identify the carbon footprint of food items
• 73% of participants knowledge proper recycling practices on campus

The survey conducted was a pre-test, therefore there are no measurable changes to report at this time.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:

Additional documentation to support the submission:

A follow up assessment will be conducted near the conclusion of Spring 2019 semester. This will allow students to participate in sustainability programming to increase sustainability literacy.

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.