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The Development and Application of a Public Energy Literacy Instrument

Abstract

Few and fairly limited measures of public energy literacy exist, especially in the Canadian context. We argue that more needs to be known about the public with respect to their energy-related literacy, given their increasing involvement as informants to and participants in energy systems and sustainability transitions. In this article, we describe the development and application of a public energy literacy instrument measuring three recognized domains of energy literacy (cognition, attitudes, and behaviours) in an urban setting. Existing surveys, frameworks, and models from academic and grey literature were used to guide development. Mixed methods included pretesting, cognitive interviews, and quantitative and qualitative analysis. The resulting instrument is a 15-item, 5-item, and 9-item measure of energy-related knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours, respectively. The instrument was administered to 204 Torontonians, who demonstrated low knowledge but high attitude and behaviour scores. Results support a reliable instrument that can be used in further research as well as in the field.

Résumé

Les données existantes sur les connaissances du public en matière d’énergie sont peu nombreuses et relativement limitées, particulièrement dans le contexte canadien. Nous soutenons qu’il faut en savoir plus quant à la littéracie énergétique de la population étant donné l’implication grandissante des membres du public en tant que collaborateurs et participants aux diverses filières énergétiques et transitions vers la durabilité qui sont en cours. Dans cet article, nous décrivons l’élaboration et la mise en application d’un questionnaire mesurant la littéracie énergétique dans la population, et qui s’attarde à trois domaines reconnus de connaissances en matière d’énergie (la cognition, les attitudes et les comportements) dans un environnement urbain. Afin d’orienter l’élaboration, des sondages, cadres et modèles existants tirés de la littérature universitaire et de la documentation parallèle furent utilisés. Des méthodes mixtes comprenaient des prétests, des entrevues à caractère cognitif et des analyses quantitative et qualitative. Le questionnaire qui en résulte mesure respectivement le degré de connaissances, les attitudes et les comportements se rapportant à l’énergie sur des échelles de 15, cinq et neuf éléments. On a fait répondre au questionnaire 204 Torontois qui ont manifesté une connaissance limitée, mais des indices élevés en ce qui touche les attitudes et les comportements. Les résultats indiquent que le questionnaire est fiable et qu’il peut être utilisé dans des recherches plus poussées ainsi que dans le domaine.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the members of the validity panel for their feedback, and all the students who assisted with data collection, in particular Nadia Corsetti. We would also like to thank Drs. Andrea Noack, Robert Gifford, and Mark Gorgolewski for their helpful comments on an earlier draft of this article. The authors are grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their valuable feedback which improved the paper. The authors thank Christine Séguin for research assistance and editing.

Funding

This work has been supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council doctoral fellowship and a Ryerson University Centre for Urban Energy, Hydro One Research Award awarded to the first author.

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Correspondence to Runa R. Das.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.”

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Das, R.R., Richman, R. The Development and Application of a Public Energy Literacy Instrument. Can. J. Sci. Math. Techn. Educ. 22, 42–67 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42330-022-00196-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s42330-022-00196-4

Keywords

  • Energy literacy
  • Instrument development
  • Energy questionnaire
  • Measurement
  • Mixed methods study
  • Energy transitions