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What Do Freshmen Know about Sustainability? Analysing the Skill Gap among University Business Administration Students

Alba Manresa (), Jasmina Berbegal-Mirabent, Úrsula Faura-Martínez () and Juan Vicente Llinares ()
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Alba Manresa: Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, 08017 Barcelona, Spain
Úrsula Faura-Martínez: Faculty of Economics and Business, Universidad de Murcia, 30100 Murcia, Spain

Authors registered in the RePEc Author Service: Úrsula Faura Martínez

Sustainability, 2021, vol. 13, issue 16, 1-21

Abstract: This study aims at creating and validating an instrument to assess the level of mastery in sustainability competencies of freshmen students in business-related studies. To reach this goal, a questionnaire that captures the level of acquisition of the competencies in sustainability is provided. A three-step process has been followed to analyse the results gathered among first-year students in two Spanish universities. First, eight confirmatory factor analyses were conducted to verify the grouping of the dimensions included in the questionnaire, resulting in 10 competency units in sustainability (CU). Next, we averaged the values of the items included in each CU to facilitate interpretation and then calculated the skill gap; that is, the difference between the level that CU students are expected to achieve on graduation compared to the current level. Third, a series of ANOVA tests were run to investigate potential differences in the level of acquisition due to gender, prior training and educational background, which according to the literature might influence current student knowledge of sustainability. Our results reveal that freshmen enter university with a heterogeneous level of development, both in terms of breadth (different CUs) and depth (the extent to which each CU is developed). The original value of this work stems from the creation of an instrument which is expected to be applicable in a variety of contexts. Additionally, the information it provides assists us in the identification of the CUs that should be further emphasized at university level, and therefore helps professors to prioritise those teaching strategies targeted at overcoming this deficit.

Keywords: higher education; curriculum for sustainability; sustainability competencies; business and administration; skill gap (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O13 Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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