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  • AASHE-STARS

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 81.11
Liaison Corey Hawkey
Submission Date Feb. 27, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Arizona State University
AC-6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Corey Hawkey
Assistant Director
University Sustainability Practices
"---" 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::
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:

Demographic and Survey Logic Questions (5 questions)

• Which of the following best describes you?
o Faculty member
o Staff member
o Student who takes most or all classes online (i.e., an online student)
o Student who takes most or all classes on campus AND lives on campus
o Student who takes most or all classes on campus BUT lives off-campus
o Other (write-in response)

• [If select Faculty, Staff, Off-campus student, or Other] Do you travel from your residence to one (or more) of ASU’s campuses/sites at least one day per week?
o Yes, I travel to a campus/site at least one day per week.
o No, I do not travel to a campus/site at least one day per week (e.g., online student, live on campus where attend classes, telecommute).

• Do you regularly travel between ASU campuses/sites? In other words, do you travel from one ASU campus/site where you take classes or work to another ASU campus/site where you take classes or work?
o No, I do not regularly travel between ASU campuses/sites.
o Yes, I regularly travel between ASU campuses/sites.

• If intercampus traveler: You indicated that you regularly travel between campuses/sites. Toward the end of this survey, you will be asked to provide information about how you travel between campuses/sites.

Please be aware that these questions about intercampus travel will be separate from questions about how you travel on-campus and/or how you travel between campus and your residence.

• Is English your native language?
o Yes, I am a native English speaker.
o No, I am NOT a native English speaker.

• [If No to Native English] For how many years have you been speaking English?
o Less than one year, 1-2 years, 2-3 years…9-10 years, more than 10 years


Sustainability Literacy Questions (8 Questions)

• Compared to previous versions of the Sustainability Literacy survey, I standardized the difficulty of the items so that any differences in scores are more likely to be due to differences in knowledge rather than differences in test-taking ability
o Same number of responses for each question (5 including do not know)
o Removed “all of the above” and “none of the above” response choices—now, always 3 “wrong” choices and 1 “correct” choice

Note: Within this section, the 8 questions are displayed in a random order. And, for each question, responses A-D are presented in a random order, with E (Do not know) at the end.

(Instructions) Now, we are going to ask you a few questions to assess how much you know about the topic of sustainability.

This section is more like a quiz than a survey. Each question is multiple-choice, and for each question there is one answer that is more correct than the others.

This is NOT designed to test your intelligence or assess your general knowledge. By answering each question honestly and to the best of your ability, ASU will have a better understanding of how much our students, faculty, and staff know about the topic of sustainability.

At the end of this survey, there will be a list of resources where you can learn more about sustainability at ASU.
(1) Which one of the following dimensions is NOT included in the most widely used concept of sustainability?
a. Society
b. Democracy
c. Environment
d. Economy
e. Do not know
(2) Which of the following is the most commonly used definition of sustainable development?
a. Creating a government welfare system that ensures universal access to education, health care, and social services.
b. Building a neighborhood that is both socio-demographically and economically diverse.
c. Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
d. Setting aside resources for preservation, never to be used.
e. Do not know
(3) Which of the following statements about the relationship between environmental issues and socioeconomic issues is true?
a. Poorer people are disproportionately impacted by climate change because they are more likely to live in areas threatened by water scarcity, vector-borne disease, and/or potential damage from storms and floods.
b. Wealthier people are disproportionately impacted by climate change because they are more likely to own properties and business that can be negatively influenced by water scarcity, vector-borne disease, and/or potential damage from storms and floods.
c. People of all socioeconomic classes are equally impacted by climate change, but for different reasons.
d. Environmental issues and socioeconomic issues are unrelated.
e. Do not know
(4) Which of the following statements about greenhouse gases is TRUE?
a. Greenhouse gases allow solar radiation to escape from the Earth’s atmosphere.
b. Methane is the most prevalent greenhouse gas.
c. Greenhouse gases help cool the Earth.
d. Carbon dioxide is the most prevalent greenhouse gas.
e. Do not know
(5) Many economists argue that electricity prices in the U.S. are too low because:
a. They do not reflect the cost of pollution and other social effects from generating the electricity.
b. Too many suppliers go out of business.
c. Electric companies have a monopoly in their service area.
d. Consumers spend only a small part of their income on energy.
e. Do not know
(6) In some markets, Styrofoam cannot be placed into the common recycling bins because:
a. Styrofoam is not recyclable.
b. Styrofoam damages equipment at the recycling facility.
c. Styrofoam is expensive to capture and recycle, so it needs to be captured separately.
d. Styrofoam takes up too much space in the recycling bins.
e. Do not know
(7) The most effective strategy implemented in large buildings and facilities to conserve water is:
a. Installing high efficiency appliances and fixtures and developing ways to recycle water.
b. Placing limits on water use.
c. Implementing employee engagement programs that create a “culture of conservation”.
d. Repairing leaks in existing appliances and fixtures.
e. Do not know
(8) The entrée with the highest carbon footprint is a:
a. Serving of chicken wings.
b. Lamb chop.
c. Veggie burger.
d. Salmon fillet.
e. Do not know


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

This survey was developed by a small committee of experts at ASU. The committee reviewed other similar surveys from across the country, primarily Ohio State's, and compiled the survey to best serve ASU's goals. It has been refined with the support of a Psychology Post-Doctoral student.


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

Survey Period: January 12, 2016 – February 7, 2016 and January 9, 2017 - February 3, 2017.

Surveys distributed (2016): Over 40,000 students and over 10,000 faculty and staff.
Total number of completed surveys: Over 11,000
Response Percentage: greater than 22%

We are following the same procedures as 2016 in 2017 and will have final results by the end of March 2017.

This assessment meets the criteria for representative sample because ASU takes a random sample of the student population (40,000 each year) and uses the entire faculty/staff population each year. The random sample of the student population is then adjusted to ensure weights carry evenly each year. Details of how this is achieved will be in the final report.

More detailed information can be found in the final report.


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

The following bullet points outline key points that were identified in the data that was collected.

• The majority of respondents (63%) indicated they have considerable interest in or a passion for sustainability. In looking at the academic level of respondents, the percentage of students who said they have an interest in sustainability increased each year from freshmen up through graduate-level students.
• Interest in sustainability is evenly divided along gender lines, with a similar percentage of male and female respondents saying they have considerable interest in or a passion for sustainability. Interest tends to increase as academic level increases.
• As a group, respondents indicated that the top three sustainability issues they place the most importance on are 1) water conservation, 2) recycling and 3) energy conservation. There were some differences when the question was stratified by gender, academic level and college affiliation; however these were small variations in ranking the issues. For most groups, water conservation and recycling were the top issues (with a few variations in some groups).
• In looking at the questions which were used to test the respondents’ knowledge of sustainability issues, when stratified by academic level, the percentage of correct answers generally increased from freshman to graduate-level students for all questions. For some questions, the percentage of graduate students who answered the questions correctly dropped-off a bit in relationship to the seniors.

Results from the 2017 survey will be available February 2017.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
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Additional documentation to support the submission:
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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.