The Minnesota Report Card on Environmental Literacy: a baseline survey of adult environmental knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors

SEEK Updated
10/12/2015
Resource Types: 
Report
Research
Guide
Abstract: 

A baseline survey of adult environmental knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors

Minnesota residents continue to encounter a variety of environmental issues. What knowledge and skills do they need to be able to solve these issues? It is clear that Minnesota needs an environmentally literate citizenry-one that has knowledge about, and attitudes toward the environment and the issues that in turn may affect behaviors related to the environment.

What does environmental literacy mean? People who are environmentally literate:

  • understand the complexity of natural and social systems and their interrelationships.
  • demonstrate the knowledge, skills, attitudes, motivation, and commitment to work individually and collectively toward sustaining a healthy natural and social environment.
  • have the capacity to perceive and interpret the health of environmental and social systems and take appropriate action to maintain, restore, or improve the health of those systems.
  • The Minnesota Report Card on Environmental Literacy (2002) documents the results of the first statewide survey, which was conducted in 2001, concerning environmental literacy of adults in Minnesota. It created a baseline of environmental literacy for residents of the state. Two more report cards have been written. The Second Minnesota Report Card was published in 2004 and The Third Minnesota Report Card was published in 2008. All can be found at http://seek.minnesotaee.org/eemn_b.cfm. Minnesota adults were surveyed for their knowledge about, attitudes toward, and behaviors related to the environment.

    In The Minnesota Report Card on Environmental Literacy, questions on urban sprawl and fertilizer use were included along with general knowledge, attitude and behavior questions. The second report card (2004), had questions on water and in the third report card (2008) questions on energy and climate change.

    Results for this report card are compared to survey results of Pennsylvania residents and United States citizens. It is important to conduct similar surveys in the future. By continuing to collect information about Minnesotans' knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors, we can track trends in environmental literacy and highlight any appropriate changes to our education efforts.

    Survey Instrument

    From August through November 2001, a random sample of 1,000 Minnesota adults answered a series of questions in a telephone survey conducted by the Wilder Research Center (St. Paul, Minn.). A copy of the entire survey is available in Appendix A. See Appendix C for the final frequencies of responses to each individual question.

    The Minnesota environmental literacy survey was developed with members of the working group (see acknowledgements page of the report). The survey instrument includes questions from various National Report Cards on Environmental Knowledge, Attitudes and Behaviors conducted by the National Environmental Education Training Foundation and Roper Starch Worldwide. Questions were also developed specifically for this survey.

    Data Analysis

    Data from the survey interviews were analyzed using frequencies of occurrence and the Pearson Chi-Square, which tests the relationship between two variables and reports statistical significance. One set of variables in this report is the demographics (gender, age, education, location, income), while the other set is the questions from the survey.

    Demographics

    The respondents to the survey were divided according to specific demographics to allow for analysis of the data. The demographics selected were gender, age (18-34, 35-44, 45-64, and 65 and over), education (high school, some college, college degree), location (seven-county metro, other metro areas in the state, non-metro or rural areas), and income ($30,000 or less, $30,001-$50,000, $50,001-$75,000, and over $75,000). The Pearson Chi-Square determines a statistical relationship between two variables, in this case, demographics and the questions.

    Organization of the Minnesota Report Card

    The Second Report Card is divided into four parts. The first three discuss specific sections of the survey: knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors. The final section offers an integrated perspective to the overall report and to Minnesota adults' environmental literacy.

    It is important to remember that this survey and report are not an evaluation of the public, but rather a further collection of information concerning the knowledge about, attitudes toward, and behaviors related to the environment in Minnesota. This will be used with the previous report-and future reports-to track trends and changes in environmental literacy as Minnesota adults are surveyed again at various points in the future.

    Acknowledgements

    The Minnesota Report Card on Environmental Literacy was developed by Hamline University's Center for Global Environmental Education through a state Environmental Assistance grant. Dr. Tony Murphy, College of St. Catherine, was the principal author of the project.

    For More Information:

    To request a print copy of The Minnesota Report Card on Environmental Literacy or The Second Minnesota Report Card on Environmental Literacy - 2004 contact the MPCA Learning Resource Center at resourcecenter.pca@state.mn.us or 651-757-2120, 800-877-6300 toll free. All three report cards can be found online at http://seek.minnesotaee.org/eemn_b.cfm.

    If you have questions concerning The Second Minnesota Report Card on Environmental Literacy contact Dr. Tony Murphy at tmurphy@globe.gov, 651-690-6711.

    Author: 
    Dr. Tony Murphy
    Topic Areas: 
    Education
    Research
    Evaluation
    Human Communities
    Target Audience: 
    Adult
    All
    Geographic Location: 
    All Minnesota
    Enhancements / Connections: 

    The Second Minnesota Report Card on Environmental Literacy - 2004, The Third Minnesota Report Card on Environmental Literacy - 2008, Environmental Literacy Scope and Sequence http://seek.minnesotaee.org/scope

    Pages/Length: 
    91 pp.
    Date Produced/Published: 
    10/1/02
    Fee: 
    No
    Library loan: 
    No
    Is training required?: 
    No
    Seasonal: 
    No