Teacher's Guide to Snapshot - Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is Snapshot?
A. Snapshot is an annual assessment of household environmental behavior embedded in selected high school science and government courses. It’s a 20-minute, Web-based, in-class survey in which students take a “snapshot” of their household’s practices related to stormwater management, waste disposal, recycling, energy and water conservation, transportation, and food purchases.
Each survey record includes demographic information such as grade level, school and zip code so that as multiple school districts participate, responses can be presented by these variables. The survey is completed anonymously, enabling students to analyze data as a group. No individual names or individual households are identified.
Q. How do teachers use Snapshot data to drive classroom inquiry?
A. Students and teachers collaborate in using Snapshot data to explore a range of inquiry-based learning opportunities such as, “How do communities use data to establish effective policies for the common good?” “What are the general trends in awareness and behavior related to local environmental issues?” “Who are the stakeholders in my community related to these trends and what’s their point of view?” What can students do to participate in improving these trends based on where the data reveal the greatest need?” “How can I improve my academic skills through community problem-solving?”
Q. Can local governments use the same data?
A. Yes. Local governments can use the same Snapshot data to improve decision making and guide the allocation of resources to address priority needs. By integrating household data and student learning, local governments can support constituents’ environmental stewardship while allocating scarce resources wisely. And as governments improve the transparency of these activities, student learning increasingly aligns with jurisdictional goals.
Q. Who wrote the survey questions and how was it developed?
A. Sustainability Ambassadors contracted with Laurie Gelb to coordinate both student and teacher input and to closely align Snapshot questions with King County’s Environmental Behavior Index. Laurie holds a Master's in Public Health and has developed surveys for over 30 years with numerous peer-reviewed publications. Most recently, she served as Vice President, Public & Civic Services at ORC International, the exclusive polling partner of CNN. Nancy Skerritt, Curriculum Design Coach for Sustainability Ambassadors and former Director of Teaching and Learning for the Tahoma School District, reviewed the questions and is developing sample Common Core Performance Tasks to support teachers in developing inquiry-based lessons inspired by Snapshot data. Following a successful survey design pretest in the Issaquah School District, Snapshot is in field test with several high school classrooms, and correspondingly several jurisdictions are reviewing its applicability to local decision-making.
Q. Is Snapshot a one-time survey?
A. No, it is an inquiry-based learning unit embedded in a regular course; ideally one required for high school graduation so that every student in the district can participate in the learning. The survey is left open for the full academic year to fit all classroom schedules and curriculum sequencing. At the end of each academic year total results are captured in an annual report so that all stakeholders, students, teachers and local governments, can begin to observe trends over multiple years. Hopefully, the trends point to general improvements in knowledge and behavior at the household level across the community.
Q. Who gets the data?
A. Your students can access and analyze your classroom’s grouped data (no personal names are used) against other classrooms in your school, other schools in your district and other districts. This process can suggest special projects to improve the environment while your local city and county government can leverage these same data toward programs with the greatest potential to affect local conditions.
Q. What’s the curriculum rationale for Snapshot?
A. Snapshot illustrates concepts in statistical and survey methods while integrating the natural, physical and social sciences. Extended research exposes students to the actual policy frameworks, programs and performance measures used by governments, businesses and non-profit groups at different scales from local to global. Snapshot supports data-driven learning around sustainable systems thinking in a way that is both personal and societal. As governments encourage responsible behaviors among their residents, they focus on individual and community health and safety. Just as obeying traffic laws reduces the risk to others on the road, respecting nature's laws helps preserve resources for all. Providing reliable community data on environmental practices helps multiple stakeholders, including students, identify patterns and articulate trends. Trend analysis leads to better policy making whether it is the school green team, the school board or the city council. Better policy leads to a sustainable future that benefits everyone.
Q. Are resources provided to support student research after they analyze their own data?
A. Yes, students can access a list of annotated links of actual policy frameworks, programs and performance measures used by governments, businesses and non-profit groups at different scales from local to global.
Q. How do I access the survey online?
A. Participating teachers sign up for Snapshot via their email and a Web access code. When you decide it’s time for this unit, you will provide students with a URL through which to complete Snapshot. Students can complete the survey on a staggered schedule based on computer or library lab availability. When you know that your class has completed the survey, you can visit the data reports Web site to begin analysis and discussion of results.
Q. How much class time does Snapshot take?
A. The in-class survey takes about 20 minutes per student, class discussion of aggregate Snapshot data about 30 minutes, and several class periods are recommended for online research and discussion of drivers and trends at local, national and global levels. The associated project-based learning unit can be calibrated for any duration, e.g. one week, one month, or a whole semester.
Q. Can I take the survey myself so I will be able to address questions?
A. Yes, just go to [TBD]
Q. I always have some prankster students. What if they fill their survey record with gibberish?
A. You could mention that students’ data will be available to you, other students and teachers in the school, as well as students in other schools and districts. All questions are closed-ended and valid answers are required by the Web application in order to submit the completed survey.
Q. What are the questions like?
A. To capture as much behavior as possible most questions are phrased in terms of a household, not an individual. Students are asked to respond by thinking about the person in the family who performs a given action most often. Most questions are in a “check the most frequent” or “check all that apply” format that is easy to complete. An added benefit with taking the Snapshot survey, is that simply answering the questions can bring to mind specific actions that influence the environment and may encourage future information-seeking or conversation with others in the household or within peer networks.
Q. Some of my student live in apartments, not single family homes. How does Snapshot accommodate for these kinds of differences?
A. Most of the behaviors measured will relate to any household, such as energy use and recycling. Questions that relate to certain homes more than others, such as lawn care, are “branched” so that students only see questions that apply to their situation.
Q. How will I access results once my class has completed the survey?
A. The Web page for accessing current data and reports is [TBD]. You can view, print. or download reports or raw data files from this page.
Q. Are there different format options for receiving the results?
A. Yes. There is a summary report and also cross-tabulations that group data on grade, class, school and district. There is also a map view showing completed surveys by geographic location. Other views are available on request by e-mailing [TBD].
Q. Can my students study the data in different ways?
A. The exported data are available in Excel format from the Web page so students can create their own presentation graphics and conduct their own analyses.
Q. How can the survey stay “open” for the full academic year, but still provide results as more classrooms take the survey?
A. Data are automatically refreshed as new respondents complete the survey. Whenever you view reports, the latest data are reflected. You can download files at any time to avoid confusion between different versions. Or you can view or download reports at different times of the year to show students how trends evolve or stabilize over time.
Q. With many students taking the same survey from different communities, what are some of the filters my students can use to study demographics patterns?
A. Zip code, first three zip code digits, gender, grade level, classroom vs. classroom, school vs. school, district vs. district, city vs. city
Q. What happens at the end of the academic year? What does an annual report look like?
A. After the survey has closed, reports will be designated as complete for the full academic year. We will also compile a summary file with all key demographic comparisons and the map view.
Q. How does Snapshot align with existing community assessments?
A. Most importantly, Snapshot reflects the responses of high school students rather than adults. However, Snapshot aligns closely with the King County Environmental Behavior Index (EBI), compiled every two years by the County's Department of Natural Resources & Parks. The EBI in turn complements existing national and regional measures monitored by the County such as the Puget Sound Partnership’s’ Sound Behavior Index and, at the national level, the STAR Community Rating System.
Surveys that are sponsored by advocacy organizations may present positive and/or negative behaviors and ask the person responding how frequently the behavior is performed. Snapshot more often presents a handful of possible behaviors (e.g. what the household does with electronics such as cell phones when they are no longer needed) and asks which one is more common in the household. In this way, the “best” or “worst” answer is not highlighted, resulting in a less judgmental question. By encouraging honest responses, the data can be more useful to students and other decision-makers.
Q. How does Snapshot support professional standards and development?
A. Snapshot data will become the raw material for an annual Primary Source - Project Design Lab. The Lab is an intergenerational professional development program through which teachers, city staff, student leaders and community champions work together to use dynamic, primary source curriculum materials to build rigorous and relevant learning experiences in our schools with measurable impact on sustainable community conditions. Snapshot supports the integration of community performance measures with the Common Core State Standards, Washington State Environmental and Sustainability Standards, and STEM Outcomes for Students and Teachers.