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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 Silver
Overall Score 53.62
Liaison Michael Kensler
Submission Date Jan. 11, 2016
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Auburn University
AC-6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.06 / 4.00 Nanette Chadwick
Director, Academic Sustainability Programs
Biological Sciences
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

The percentage of students assessed for sustainability literacy (directly or by representative sample) and for whom a follow-up assessment is conducted:
1

The percentage of students assessed for sustainability literacy (directly or by representative sample) without a follow-up assessment:
0.50

A copy of the questions included in the sustainability literacy assessment(s):
The questions included in the sustainability literacy assessment(s) :

See the file attached, which lists the pre- and post-test questions administered to students enrolled in the course SUST 2000 Introduction to Sustainability. These questions were administered to students in this course, and in others in our core curriculum. See details below.


A brief description of how the assessment(s) were developed:

These assessment questions were developed as part of the Auburn University Core Curriculum assessment process. Originally this process involved assessing student learning outcomes in HONR 1027/1037 Sustainability and the Modern World I and II, which were course options in the Social Science core. The student learning assessment reports for these 2 courses are available at the website link given below.
As of Fall 2015, SUST 2000 Introduction to Sustainability also was added to the core curriculum as a social science option, and we began to assess student learning outcomes in that course as well.


A brief description of how the assessment(s) were administered:

The assessments were administered as a pre- and post-test process. On the first day of class, in the above 2 courses, students were given a list of 6 multiple-choice questions to answer. These were collected and scored. Then as part of the final exam for the course, the same 6 questions were given to the students, and the results scored. The percent of students who answered each question correctly at the beginning and end of the course were compared, to assess their sustainability literacy before and after taking the course.


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

In general, a majority of the students answered most of the questions correctly at the beginning of each class. However, the percent who answered correctly ranged from barely over 50%, to about 70-80% depending on the question, at the beginning of each course. Then at the end of the course, almost 90% to close to 100% of students answered all 6 questions correctly. This indicated that: (1) students entered these courses with some literacy about sustainability definitions, scope, and major issues, and (2) after students completed these courses, their sustainability literacy greatly improved, such that almost all of them were able to correctly answer the given questions about scope, definitions, and major issues related to sustainability.
We found that over the past 5 years, the percent of students answering the questions correctly at the start of each course has gradually increased, indicating that an increasing number appear to be gaining some basic sustainability literacy before taking these courses. This trend suggests that students are increasingly gaining a certain level of sustainability literacy outside of class, and even before entering the university.
We plan to improve our pre- and post-test process over the next few years, to become more sophisticated and nuanced, so that we can better assess which major aspects of sustainability literacy the students are gaining from these courses.


The website URL where information about the literacy assessment(s) is available:

NOTE on the percentage of students assessed for sustainability literacy:
A total of ~200 students were assessed, in the context of honors sustainability courses, over the past 3 years at Auburn. This is a small percent of the total enrolled student body at Auburn which is ~20,000 undergraduates. The honors sustainability courses are electives (not required courses, but can be used toward social science core requirements), and also are limited to students in the Honors College, leading to this quite small percentage of students who have been assessed over the past 3 years. However, the regular introduction to sustainability course, SUST 2000, was also approved this year as a social science option in the core curriculum, so the number of students enrolling each semester in this course, and being assessed for sustainability literacy, is expected to increase rapidly over the next few years.

NOTE on the website link posted here:
In order to access the full assessment reports, the viewer will need to:
(1) Scroll down the page to the links to the assessment reports for each year, at the bottom of the page.
(2) Select a year to view.
(3) After you have access the webpage for a given year, scroll down the page for that year, to locate the HONR 1027/1037 course listing link.
(4) Click on that link to access the assessment report document.

NOTE on the full assessment reports:
The report posted for each year provides a complex and rather byzantine description of several types of assessment tools, including the use of rubrics for essays written by the students, and also the assessment of some student learning outcomes that were not directly related to sustainability. This is because the core curriculum assessed several types of learning outcomes, only some of which were sustainability-related. To receive background data tables and more information about sustainability literacy information in the posted assessment reports, contact the Director of Academic Sustainability Programs, Dr. Nanette Chadwick, at chadwick@auburn.edu

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.