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Guest Blog: Opportunity to contribute to measuring Ocean Literacy! Want to join us?

Posted By Lisa D. Tossey, Sunday, May 1, 2016
Ocean Literacy

At the European Marine Science Educator Association 2015 Conference, members of the Ocean Literacy community discussed the urgent need to be able to measure progress in the development of Ocean Literacy in our respective countries and regions. We discussed a variety of ways to measure Ocean Literacy and ways that our community might use a widely accepted measurement tool. The Lawrence Hall of Science took the lead on this international project.


Here is what we have been up to and what we plan to do next:

  • We gathered the items from the various tools that have been used to measure constructs associated with Ocean Literacy. We compared the items and removed redundancies.

  • We will invite collaborators from European countries to translate the items on these scales to their language.

  • We will invite collaborators to administer these scales to a specific population (for example, 15-16 year olds).

  • We will gather the data and look at the item behavior within the scales and across countries to determine which set of items form scales for these constructs and seem to function well across linguistic and cultural differences.

  • We will finalize a valid and reliable instrument that will be freely available at least to all those who participate in its development.


Contributors will then be able to collect and analyze their own local/regional/national/project-specific data AND to contribute their data to a central repository at the Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley, so that various data sets can be compared to one another and aggregated into an international or global picture of ocean literacy over time. Isn’t that awesome?

We have 56 items so far, but we still have some gaps in the Ocean Literacy Principles and Concepts. Here are the concepts that we still need items for:

   Principle 1: concept H.

   Principle 2: concept B

   Principle 3: concept G

   Principle 4: concept C

   Principle 5: concept D

   Principle 6: concepts C & G

   Principle 7: concepts B,C, E & F


For more information about each of these concepts, please see the most recent version of the Ocean Literacy Brochure here >

We have spent so much time on all these questions that we might decide to move to the desert if we are asked to come up with a single more marine-related question. So here is where you can contribute! Please, put your thinking cap on and suggest good survey items addressing any of the missing concepts.

To make sure creative people go in the right direction, here are some helpful tips to make a good question:

  • Use as few words and as simple of words as possible.
  • Do not write negative questions such as "What is not a factor influencing sea level rise?"
  • Avoid local knowledge such as "What impact does the current have on the Belgian coast?"
  • Create only multiple choice questions with no more than 5 answer options.
  • All the answer options should be about the same length and the wrong answers should be realistic.
  • It is ok to have more than one correct answer per question. Just add "Select all that apply".
  • For number answers, make the differences large. Ex. "10%, 50%, 75%" are better than "49%, 50%, 51%"
  • Your question should be accurate enough that the correct answer is accurate regardless of your marine expertise. For example to the question "What is the salinity of the ocean? 3.5%, 0.01%, 50%, 90%", a lay person might answer 3.5% but an expert would tell you that the salinity varies largely.

We would love to receive your suggestion by mid-May. Please send your items to this address > 

Thank you very much for your valuable help!


Mac Cannady, Craig Strang and Géraldine Fauville

Lawrence Hall of Science

 University of California, Berkeley   

Tags:  Ocean Literacy 

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