Over the past decade, much effort has gone into educating the public about the ocean, ocean sciences, and the relationships between the land, ocean, and atmosphere. Many organizations have worked to measure the resulting public awareness (The OCEAN Project, 1999, 2009; AAAS, 2003; the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University, 2007). While much was learned from these measurement efforts, none have been aligned with the Ocean Literacy Framework, developed under the leadership of COSEE California.
In response to this need, the COSEE California evaluation team developed a survey instrument to help us understand if these efforts are actually changing Ocean Literacy in the settings where they are being used, and if there is differential impact of these efforts on sub-populations. A team of learning scientists, evaluation researchers, scientists, and educators are collaborating to develop a survey instrument designed to measure four dimensions:
- knowledge of the Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts,
- attitudes and beliefs about the ocean and about marine life,
- behaviors related to the ocean and to marine life, and
- exposure to ocean and marine experiences.
The Ocean Literacy Index
This instrument is designed to be easy to administer and analyze so that it will have maximum utility and flexibility. This measurement tool will support formative efforts (e.g. guiding the kinds of interventions used for targeted audiences) and summative evaluation (e.g. for measuring the impact of educational outreach efforts).
Instrument development work to date has included several iterative stages.
- First, researchers worked with the scientists and educators from COSEE California to develop the specifications for the instrument.
- Next, many items were developed and piloted. Statistical and psychometric analyses were then conducted on these data to determine item fit and both item and scale reliabilities.
- Based on these analyses, adjustments (deletions and additions of items) were made.
- We anticipate having the results of this pilot, a validated instrument, and an algorithm for summarizing results into an Ocean Literacy Index.
Dissemination efforts so far
In February 2010, we presented at the AGU/ASLO/TOS Ocean Sciences meeting. Since that time, we have communicated with numerous researchers and evaluators across the US who have interest in utilizing the instrument. As soon the instrument is ready, we will use it as part of our COSEE-CA evaluation efforts and disseminate it widely to the field.