Household Performance Measures - Snapshot
What is Snapshot? Intro Slide Presentation
Snapshot is an annual assessment of household environmental behavior embedded in selected high school science and civics 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.
Teachers access Snapshot data via Web link as each class completes the survey. Each 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 grouped data with no personal names attached. The survey is left open for the full academic year to fit a range of all classroom schedules.
Students use 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?”
Meanwhile, 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.
Why is it important?
Snapshot applies concepts in civics, statistics and marketing while integrating the natural, physical and social sciences. It supports data-driven learning with a topic 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. Responsible behaviors are more likely to occur when citizens of all ages are informed, engaged and striving toward a shared perception of the common good. By integrating systems thinking and sustainability principles in the educational process, we support students' willingness and ability to make sound choices lifelong.
What are the questions like?
To capture as much behavior as possible most questions are phrased in terms of a household, not an individual. Students are asked to respond in terms of the person 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. Additionally, simply answering the questions suggests specific actions that influence the environment and may encourage future information-seeking or conversation with others in the household or within peer networks.
How much class time does it take?
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 as students explore sustainability drivers and trends at local, national and global levels. The associated inquiry-based learning unit can be calibrated for one week, one month, or a whole semester.
How does Snapshot align with existing community assessments?
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. Both were most recently updated in September, 2013. The EBI is a 15-20 minute survey (with phone, Web and mail-in options) that reaches a cross-section of County residents. Snapshot also complements the Puget Sound Partnership’s Sound Behavior Index and the national STAR Community Rating System, in which King County, Seattle and Tacoma are all pilot jurisdictions.
The distinction between Snapshot and other environmental tracking relates more to method than content. 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 collected can be more useful to students and other decision-makers.
How else does Snapshot support sustainable neighborhoods?
The vision for Snapshot is that students will be able to post actionable research projects and communicate positive trends to policy makers, local media and resource managers. With input from GIS specialists, a spatial analysis of data trends will further catalyze engagement by mapping the distribution of improved household behaviors as well as the location and impact of student projects that meet educational criteria. Interactive input will generate a Web-based Project Atlas reveling “heat islands” of neighborhood activity wherever engagement efforts take root.
How does Snapshot support professional development?
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.