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Measuring longitudinal student performance on student learning outcomes in sustainability education

Meghann E. Jarchow (Sustainability Program, University of South Dakota, Vermillion, South Dakota, USA)
Paul Formisano (Department of English, University of South Dakota, Vermillion, South Dakota, USA)
Shane Nordyke (Department of Political Science, University of South Dakota, Vermillion, South Dakota, USA)
Matthew Sayre (Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of South Dakota, Vermillion, South Dakota, USA)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 18 December 2017

Issue publication date: 23 February 2018

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe the student learning outcomes (SLOs) for a sustainability major, evaluate faculty incorporation of the SLOs into the courses in the sustainability major curriculum and measure student performance on the SLOs from entry into the major to the senior capstone course.

Design/methodology/approach

Through an iterative approach with a faculty advisory committee, SLOs were developed for the sustainability major. Curriculum mapping followed by evaluation of course syllabi were used to determine the extent to which each course addressed the SLOs. Student performance on most SLOs was measured through student assessment in an introductory and capstone course to evaluate the change in performance over time.

Findings

The core courses of the sustainability major were more likely to address the SLOs of the major than that of the elective courses. Where measured, student performance on the SLOs increased from the introductory course to the capstone course. Sustainability majors participated in an average of almost ten experiential learning opportunities focused on sustainability.

Originality/value

This research provides a longitudinal assessment of student learning in an undergraduate sustainability major. Because undergraduate sustainability degrees are generally new, this research can serve as a base upon which to continue to improve sustainability curriculum design.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

We thank the USD Sustainability Advisory Committee for their assistance developing the SLOs for the sustainability major. We also thank Bruce Kelley, Lisa Bonneau and the anonymous reviewers for assistance on revisions of the manuscript.

Citation

Jarchow, M.E., Formisano, P., Nordyke, S. and Sayre, M. (2018), "Measuring longitudinal student performance on student learning outcomes in sustainability education", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 19 No. 3, pp. 547-565. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-11-2016-0200

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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