Student Benchmark Survey on Ecological Literacy Research Project
de Wildt, Hillary
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The following research study investigates the level of ecological literacy of fourth year and above students at Dalhousie University. Ecological literacy, or eco-literacy, refers to the capacity of an individual to perceive, interpret and alter the relative health of the natural environment (Roth, 1992). Specifically, the eco-literacy of students in their fourth year and or above with the intention of graduating in the environment-related disciplines of Environment, Sustainability & Society and Environmental Science is examined. An accredited survey conducted by Anna Elizabeth McGinn (2014) was administered to 91 students these respective programs. Probabilistic and non-probabilistic sampling methods were used in the administration of the survey. The survey prompted students to answer environment-related questions in the areas of Caring, Practical Competency and Knowledge in order to test their competence in eco-literacy. A student must have a high enough combination of Caring, Practical Competency and Knowledge towards the environment in order to be considered ecologically literate (McGinn, 2014). Following a thorough analysis of the results, the researchers determined eco-literacy levels for each sample population. For the Environment, Sustainability & Society population, 85% were considered ecologically literate while 15% were considered illiterate. Moreover, for the Environmental Science sampling frame of 19 students, 79% were considered ecologically literate while 21% were considered illiterate. The statistics demonstrate that students in their fourth year or higher at Dalhousie University have a high eco-literacy comprehension. It is noted, however, that there is room for improvement in each program with respect to eco-literacy. Further research is recommended by the researchers in order to advance efforts in the field of eco-literacy at the institution.