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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 71.57
Liaison Tony Gillund
Submission Date Jan. 22, 2016
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

The Ohio State University
AC-6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Jeremy Bruskotter
Associate Professor
School of Environment and Natural Resources
"---" 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:

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

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

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

The sustainability literacy assessment questions can be found here: http://ess.osu.edu/sites/essl/files/imce/Phase%20II%20Questions%20no%20bold%20answers.pdf

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

Questions were developed through expert interviews, focus groups, and analysis of core courses within the fields related to sustainability (environmental, social, and economic). As a baseline evaluation the assessment tool continues to be refined, improved, and pared down. The most recent list of items has been reduced to 28 questions using an Item Response Theory (IRT) method.

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

The literacy assessment surveyed a representative sample of students through an online survey. Approximately 4,400 students responded to the survey. The survey measured knowledge of sustainability concepts, awareness of sustainability driven efforts on campus, energy conservation behavior, and enrollment in sustainability focused courses. In the latest survey we also included items from the Theory of Planned Behavior, a socio-psychological theory that explains whether individuals decide to engage in specific behaviors. Our goal for this survey was to examine how sustainability knowledge may fit into the Theory of Planned Behavior to explain conservation behaviors.

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

The following is from a forthcoming publication reporting the results of the latest (2014) survey. The citation of the publication is:

Heeren, A., Singh, A., Zwickle, A., Slagle, K., Koontz, T., McCreey, A. (Forthcoming) Is Sustainability Knowledge Half the Battle? An Examination of Sustainability Knowledge, Attitudes, Norms and efficacy to Understand Sustainable Behaviors. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education.

"A common misperception is that unsustainable behaviors are largely driven by a lack of knowledge of the underlying societal costs as well as the contributing factors leading to environmental degradation. Such a perception assumes if individuals “only knew better,” they would engage in more sustainable behaviors. The “Knowledge Deficit Model” has been critiqued for not including social psychological research about how knowledge is incorporated into decision-making and its subsequent effect on human behavior. The Theory of Planned Behavior model has been used extensively to examine intention to engage in a variety of behaviors, therefore this model is applied to examine the effect knowledge has in predicting behavior. The number of ASK questions a student answered correctly was summed to create an ASK score measuring knowledge. The minimum score was 0 questions answered correctly and the maximum was 27 questions (out of 30 questions possible) answered correctly. The average score was 17.02 (SD = 6.214). The statistic for reliability (α = 0.872) was within an acceptable range (DeVellis, 2012) indicating the variable is appropriate to include in the model. An ANOVA showed that sustainability knowledge differed based on political party affiliation [F(4,552) = 5.536; p < 0.01]. A t-test indicated that males scored slightly higher than females (mean difference = 1.996; t = -3.82 p < 0.01). Results indicate that knowledge had a significant, albeit weak, bivariate correlation with behavior (r = .113, p < .001). However, when controlling for Theory of Planned Behavior variables (attitudes, norms and perceived behavioral control), knowledge was not a significant predictor of behavior. This study places sustainable knowledge in the context of other social psychological factors which also influence behavior. The results show that as we educate students about sustainability, fostering behavior change will require education not only about how actions affect sustainability, but also about social norms, attitudes towards sustainable behaviors, and the level of self-efficacy in doing those behaviors."

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

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.