Sustainability Literacy Assessment at Albion College

Sustainability Literacy Assessment at Albion College
All Albion College students are required to take an Environmental Category course. To qualify
for environmental category credit, these courses must include learning objectives related to
multiple sustainability issues. Our Curriculum and Resource Committee is responsible for
evaluating environmental category courses on an alternate year rotating basis. Each course is
assessed using a pretest/posttest protocol focusing on one criterion. Sample questions from two
environmental category courses are presented below as examples:
Environmental Category Assessment
Objective: Consider the consequences of human intervention into natural systems.
Example #1, ENVN 102 –
In the view of many scientists and activists, the severity of a particular human impact on the
environment is based on three interacting factors: human population size, affluence or the
amount of resource used, and technology or the efficiency with which the resource is used.
(a) Identify on environmental problem that is due mostly to “people” overpopulation and
describe the problem’s negative environmental consequences.
(b) Identify one problem that is due mostly to heavy per capita consumption of resources and
describe the problem’s negative environmental consequences.
(c) Finally, identify one problem that can most easily be addressed by a technological “fix”
and describe the problem’s negative environmental consequences.
Example #2, BIOL 195 –
10 multiple choice questions:
1. Human-dominated ecosystems such as crop fields tend to ______________ than natural
a. Have lower biodiversity
b. Have higher biodiversity
c. Have simpler energy relationships.
d. Have more complex energy relationships
e. Both a & c
2. Longer wavelengths of infrared light/heat are trapped to produce the so called”
greenhouse effect” by ________________
a. Carbon b. Carbon dioxide
c. Nitrogen monoxide d. Ozone
e. Sulfur
3. A significant drop in the upper atmospheric content of ozone is predicted to lead to an
increase in ____________________
a. Ocean temperature c. Tropical rain forests
e. Skin cancers
b. Polar ice
d. Worldwide precipitation
4. The leading cause of extinction today is ______________________
a. Over hunting and deliberate extermination
b. Intentional introduction of exotic species
c. Loss of the ozone layer
d. Habitat destruction and fragmentation
5. A major cause of thinning of the ozone layer has been attributed to
a. Green-house gasses
b. Nitric and sulfuric acids
c. Phosphorus
d. Water vapor
e. Chlorofluorocarbons
6. Acid precipitation (acid rain) occurs when water in the air reacts with oxides of
___________ that result from the combustion of fossil fuels. Acid rain tends to _______
mineral nutrients for plants in the soil. Fill in the blanks respectively with
a. Carbon and hydrogen; add to
b. Carbon and hydrogen; wash out
c. Nitrogen and sulfur; add to
d. Nitrogen and sulfur; wash out
7. All of the following are likely to result in land-clearing operation such as deforestation
and agriculture EXCEPT
a. Destruction of plant and animal habitats
b. Erosion of soil due to increased water runoff
c. Leaching of minerals from the soil
d. Decreased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
8. Which of the categories below is the formal classification that expresses the greatest
concern for a species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act?
a. Endangered b. Threatened c. special concern
d. Endemic
9. Which of the following is an exotic species causing tremendous problems in the Great
a. Zebra mussel b. Kirtland’s warbler c. fire ants
d. Pitcher’s thistle
10. Which of the following is NOT a major environmental problem caused by humans?
a. Air pollution b. succession c. introduction of exotic species
d. habitat