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Energy literacy of secondary students in New York State (USA): A measure of knowledge, affect, and behavior


  • DeWaters, Jan E.
  • Powers, Susan E.


Energy literacy, which encompasses broad content knowledge as well as affective and behavioral characteristics, will empower people to make appropriate energy-related choices and embrace changes in the way we harness and consume energy. Energy literacy was measured with a written questionnaire completed by 3708 secondary students in New York State, USA. Results indicate that students are concerned about energy problems (affective subscale mean 73% of the maximum attainable score), yet relatively low cognitive (42% correct) and behavioral (65% of the maximum) scores suggest that students may lack the knowledge and skills they need to effectively contribute toward solutions. High school (HS) students scored significantly better than middle school (MS) students on the cognitive subscale; gains were greatest on topics included in NY State educational standards, and less on topics related to "practical" energy knowledge such as ways to save energy. Despite knowledge gains, there was a significant drop in energy conservation behavior between the MS and HS students. Intercorrelations between groups of questions indicate energy-related behaviors are more strongly related to affect than to knowledge. These findings underscore the need for education that improves energy literacy by impacting student attitudes, values and behaviors, as well as broad content knowledge.

Suggested Citation

  • DeWaters, Jan E. & Powers, Susan E., 2011. "Energy literacy of secondary students in New York State (USA): A measure of knowledge, affect, and behavior," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 1699-1710, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:39:y:2011:i:3:p:1699-1710

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    References listed on IDEAS

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