Assessment of Sustainability Knowledge (ASK) Scale

In 2013 the ESS Lab developed the initial Assessment of Sustainability Knowledge (ASK), an instrument designed to measure sustainability knowledge across three domains: environmental, economic and social. Unlike surveys that measure beliefs and values, we aim to solely measure factual knowledge.  

Phase I: The initial battery of items were developed using expert panels, pilot testing, and testing of the instrument on nearly 2,000 undergraduate students at OSU. We analyzed the initial 30-item battery using Item Response Theory (IRT), and were able to reduce the question set to 16 items.

Phase II: In collaboration with the University of Maryland, we expanded our set of validated items to 28 and administer the assessment to more than 3,000 students during 2013. You are welcome to use this 28-item assessment (available here) at your institution as long as you contact us prior to doing so and appropriately cite our work.

Phase III: We recently administered the 28-item assessment to more than 4,000 students. Following additional IRT analysis, a shortened and updated, 12-item version of the insturment was developed by Dr. Adam Zwickle. For more information please contact us or see the publication: Zwickle, A., & Jones, K. (2018). Sustainability Knowledge and Attitudes—Assessing Latent Constructs. In Handbook of Sustainability and Social Science Research (pp. 435-451). Springer, Cham.

Please provide feedback or contact us with questions by sending an e-mail to: with ‘ASK Feedback’ or 'Questions about ASK' in the subject line. 


Publications and Reports


  • Zwickle, A., T. Koontz and K. Slagle. 2012. Assessing Sustainability Literacy:  An Instrument to Measure Knowledge of Environmental, Economic, and Social Sustainability.  Presented at the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).