The purpose of this paper is to present a public university’s design and implementation of an assessment approach that measures the change in undergraduate students’ environmental…
The purpose of this paper is to present a public university’s design and implementation of an assessment approach that measures the change in undergraduate students’ environmental stewardship reasoning and knowledge abilities over time.
In support of a university’s strategic emphasis on environmental stewardship, members of a university committee developed environmental stewardship learning outcomes for undergraduate students. The learning outcomes were not required in specific academic courses or in general education. Subsequently, volunteers from a variety of roles, in cooperation with committee members, developed a corresponding assessment test that focused on reasoning and knowledge. The instrument was revised between Spring 2011 and Spring 2014, and its validity was evaluated. An exploratory analysis of student learning over time was conducted using 22 items shared by different test forms.
A series of implementations and revisions resulted in a 50-question test, the Environmental Stewardship Reasoning and Knowledge Assessment (ESRKA), which showed good reliability (0.83). A comparative analysis provided evidence of the validity of the instrument. Results from a small sample of students showed that second-year students generally performed better on the 22 items than incoming first-year students. Those taking the assessment as second-year students, 18 months after their initial assessment, scored significantly higher on the 22 items by about 10.4 percentage points (0.61 standard deviation units, t68 = 6.23, p < 0.0001).
Because of the small sample size and revision of the items, the analysis of student learning is only exploratory.
The learning outcomes and validated assessment instrument may be used either in whole or part by other institutions. The approach to measure changes in students’ environmental stewardship reasoning and knowledge abilities as cohorts over time could assist universities in tracking environmental stewardship learning and could inform strategic implementation of learning opportunities through the curriculum, as well as through other student learning experiences.