AC 2: Learning Outcomes – version 2.2
Data Accuracy Video
Frequently Asked Questions
How has this credit changed between STARS 2.1 and 2.2?
Substantive changes have been made to this credit. Institutional and divisional sustainability learning outcomes are recognized independently from the percentage of students that graduate from sustainability-focused programs. In addition, partial scoring is now available for institutional learning outcomes that are supportive of, but not explicitly focused on sustainability. A comprehensive list of differences can be found in the 2.2 Summary of changes.
What are some examples of sustainability learning outcomes (SLOs)?
Sustainability-focused learning outcomes:
- Students will be able to define sustainability and identify major sustainability challenges.
- Students will have an understanding of the carrying capacity of ecosystems as related to providing for human needs.
- Students will be able to apply concepts of sustainable development to address sustainability challenges in a global context.
- Students will identify, act on, and evaluate their professional and personal actions with the knowledge and appreciation of interconnections among economic, environmental, and social perspectives.
Sustainability-supportive learning outcomes:
- Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the nature of systems.
- Students will have an understanding of their social responsibility as future professionals and citizens.
- Students will be able to accommodate individual differences in their decisions and actions and be able to negotiate across these differences.
- Students will be able to analyze power, structures of inequality, and social systems that govern individual and communal life.
- Students will be able to recognize the global implications of their actions.
Do sustainability learning outcomes need to include the word sustainability to count?
A learning outcome does not necessarily have to include the term “sustainability” to count as sustainability-focused as long as there is an explicit focus on the interdependence of ecological systems and social/economic systems.
How do we determine what graduating students should be counted under Part 2?
To count, programs must meet one of three criteria:
- Students majoring in programs are identified as sustainability-FOCUSED under AC 3: Undergraduate Program or AC 4: Graduate Program.
- Students majoring in programs REQUIRE successful completion of a sustainability-FOCUSED course as identified in AC 1: Academic Courses.
- Students majoring in programs have adopted one or more sustainability-FOCUSED learning outcomes that reference the interdependence of ecological systems AND social/economic systems.
What kind of documentation is required for this credit?
To support the number of students claimed to graduate from programs that have adopted at least one sustainability learning outcome, a complete listing of programs and their respective sustainability learning outcomes is required.
- If reporting on programs that are identified as sustainability-focused under AC 3/AC 4, the full program names must be listed.
- If reporting on programs that require successful completion of a sustainability-focused course, as identified under AC 1, please include the course name(s) and list of program(s) that require the course.
- If reporting on other programs with one or more sustainability-focused learning outcomes, please include the program name(s) and at least one sustainability learning outcome per program.
Can overview/mission/vision/values statements for a course, program, or division be counted?
No. General program overview statements, mission/vision/values statements, or general methodology statements are not sufficient. According to the credit criteria, “learning outcomes are distinct from the aims of learning in that learning outcomes are concerned with the achievements of the learner rather than with the overall intentions of the teacher”.
- California Polytechnic State University – Parts 1 and 2 – Great institutional websites documenting both sections comprehensively.
- East Carolina University – Part 2 – Great documentation and alignment under both the text and upload fields. Uploaded file includes counts and uses color-coding to highlight sustainability programs.
- Furman University – Part 1 – Good reporting example of an institution that requires a sustainability-focused course for completion of the General Education program.
- Keene State College – Part 1 – Good demonstration of sustainability-focused learning outcomes. The institution-level sustainability learning outcome is well documented on the institutional learning outcomes page.
- Polytechnique Montreal – Parts 1 and 2 – References divisional and program-specific learning outcomes that qualify under both parts. Good reporting example for engineering or other discipline-focused institutions.
- State University of New York at New Paltz – Part 1 – Includes direct link in descriptive field to institutional learning outcomes that reference sustainability directly.
- State University of New York at Oneonta – Part 2 – Good documentation provided in an uploaded outline of programs that qualify. Good reporting example for smaller institutions.
- University of Michigan – Part 2 – Uploaded program inventory is clear and concise. Good reporting example for larger institutions.
- University of Montevallo – Part 1 – Good example demonstrative sustainability-supportive learning outcomes, where disparate outcomes and courses require environmental and social dimensions of understanding separately.
- University of North Carolina, Charlotte – Part 2 – Uploaded program inventory includes list of sustainability learning outcomes for all qualifying programs.
- University of Utah – Parts 1 and 2 – Clear methodology and good program inventory. Sustainability programs are identified through a) learning outcomes, b) requirement of sustainability-focused courses, and c) inclusion in AC 3/4.
- University of Vermont – Parts 1 and 2 – Good documentation provided under both parts. The optional URL field links to a sustainability focused General Education Learning Outcome.
Common Issues Identified During Review
- Score Outlier – Uncommon for institutions to earn full points or very close to it. If a high score is reported, check closely for the issues below.
- Numeric Outlier – Part 2: A high amount (70%+) under “Percentage of students who graduate from programs that have adopted at least one sustainability learning outcome” may indicate misclassification of sustainability-focused courses, programs and/or learning outcomes. If a high amount is reported, check closely for the issues below.
- Parts 1 and Part 2: Sustainability-focused learning outcomes include the term “sustainability” OR have an explicit focus on the interdependence of ecological systems and social/economic systems. A common mistake is listing an outcome as sustainability-focused when it does not cover ecological dimensions of sustainability.
- Part 2: Response must reference completion of academic programs and should not reflect student participation in general education as recognized in Part 1. To Count, programs must meet one of three criteria:
- Programs are identified as sustainability-FOCUSED under AC 3: Undergraduate Program or AC 4: Graduate Program.
- Programs REQUIRE successful completion of a sustainability-FOCUSED course as identified in AC 1: Academic Courses.
- Programs have adopted one or more sustainability-FOCUSED learning outcomes that reference the interdependence of ecological systems AND social/economic systems.