Science and Teaching for Field Instructors

Distributing the International Ocean Literacy Survey

In addition to his work with BEETLES, Craig Strang is involved with promoting ocean literacy through work marine educators across the globe. He and other colleagues have developed an International Ocean Literacy Survey, and they’re looking for educators and community members who can share the survey with their students and youth they engage with. Craig says:

A bunch of us Ocean Literacy-types launched the International Ocean Literacy Survey Version 4 a couple weeks ago! Now we need your help to get as many 15-17 year old students as possible to take the survey! We are so excited that this huge volunteer, international effort is moving forward to the next level.

Three years ago, one of my Lawrence Hall of Science psychometrician colleagues, Mac Cannady, gave a presentation at the European Marine Science Educators Association Conference in Crete about some incomplete work we had done several years before through Center for Ocean Sciences Education and Excellence–California ( to begin development of an evaluation instrument that might measure levels of Ocean Literacy. We were surprised that poor Mac was deluged with questions, and then had people approaching him throughout the conference, saying how much they needed such an instrument, and how they would gladly contribute to its development if an organization like the Hall would lead the effort. They all agreed that the Survey should be based on Ocean Literacy: The essential principles of ocean sciences for learners of all agesand The Ocean Literacy Scope and Sequence for Grades K-12” ( Amazing that our work here in the US to define Ocean Literacy is finding value in countries like Bangladesh, Greece, Taiwan, Sweden, Japan…

We didn’t have a penny in the bank for the project, but we got swept up and inspired by the enthusiasm of our colleagues and decided to give it a try. Three years later, we think we are very close having a finished survey instrument that will be community developed, open-source and freely available to any organization, practitioner or researcher. Version 2 was translated into 17 languages and tested in 24 countries. Almost 7,000 students participated. It was the largest survey of Ocean Literacy ever conducted! Version 4 has been translated into 12 languages—we’ll see how many countries and how many students we can recruit to use it!

Having a common instrument that can be used anywhere in the world is a huge benefit to our entire community, and will allow us to evaluate the effectiveness of various programs, establish baselines of Ocean Literacy in various communities and measure growth in Ocean Literacy over time.

For more on the International Ocean Literacy Survey and information on how to participate, see the announcement below or go to:

Here is what you can do: If you have access to any students ages 15-17 that are native speakers of the languages listed below, please have them complete the survey online. Information letters for both parents and students, and a script to read to students before they take the survey can be found here. They can also be found at  

If you don’t have access to students but still want to help, contact the teachers and informal educators you know, and ask them to give the survey to their students. We need at least 200 respondents in each language to be able to analyze the data. Feel free to translate the attached letters and script if necessary when you distribute the survey. Please be sure to send us an email telling us that you are helping so that we can acknowledge you in future publications.

What happens with the data? Data from this field test will be analyzed centrally at Lawrence Hall of Science. We will provide findings back to the community as soon as the analyses are complete. Partners (like you!) who help us distribute the survey will be able to access their own data. We will continue testing the survey until we are satisfied that we have a truly valid and reliable, open-source, comprehensive International Ocean Literacy Survey that can be freely used by educators around the world. We are very close to realizing this goal!

Links to the IOLS Version 4 in various languages:

  1.     Catalan:
  2.     Chilean:
  3.     Chinese:
  4.     Dutch:
  5.     English:
  6.     Greek:
  7.     Japanese:
  8.     Korean:
  9.     Polish:
  10.  Portuguese:
  11.  Spanish:
  12.  Tagalog:

If you would like to translate the survey into another language, and you are confident that you can gather more than 200 responses, please contact us.

Thanks so much for your help!

And thanks to the IOLS partner organizations that support the development of the Survey:

  •      Asia Marine Educators Association
  •      Canadian Network for Ocean Education
  •      Marine Conservation Society
  •      Marine Learning Center of Japan
  •      National Marine Educators Association
  •      National Ocean Sciences Bowl
  •      National Taiwan Ocean University
  •      Partnership for Observation of the Global Ocean
  •      Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile Centro de Conservación Marina
  •      Surfline
  •      The Hydrous
  •      The Oceanographic Society of Japan

Warm regards,

Craig Strang, Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley

Géraldine Fauville, Stanford University

Mac Cannady, Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley


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