The growing phenomenon of school gardens

MISSING IMAGE

Material Information

Title:
The growing phenomenon of school gardens cultivating positive youth development
Physical Description:
xiv, 200 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Language:
English
Creator:
Skelly, Sonja Maria, 1971-
Publication Date:

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Gardening   ( lcsh )
School gardens   ( lcsh )
Environmental Horticulture thesis, Ph.D   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Environmental Horticulture -- UF   ( lcsh )
Genre:
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )

Notes

Thesis:
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2000.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 177-185).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Sonja Maria Skelly.
General Note:
Printout.
General Note:
Vita.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 025872750
oclc - 47103135
System ID:
AA00018874:00001

Full Text










THE GROWING PHENOMENON OF SCHOOL GARDENS:
CULTIVATING POSITIVE YOUTH DEVELOPMENT














By

SONJA MARIE SKELLY


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2000























Copyright 2000

By

Sonja Marie Skelly














DEDICATION

I dedicate this dissertation to the schoolteachers in this study and throughout

the United States who use school gardens. Many of these teachers use school gardens

with the belief and knowledge that these gardens may enhance the education and

development of their students. It is through their efforts that this research was

possible. May their gardens and students continue to grow and flourish.













ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


The tasks of carrying out this research project and writing the subsequent

dissertation would not have been possible without considerable help and support from

many people. I thank the members of my graduate committee: Dr. Jennifer C.

Bradley, Dr. Theresa Ferrari, Dr. Tracy Hoover, Dr. Steve Jacob, and Dr. Michael E.

Kane, who each enhanced the quality of my graduate education and research. I

extend gratitude to Dr. Jennifer C. Bradley, whose role as mentor and friend has

sustained me through my graduate experience. I thank Dr. Bradley for giving me

countless opportunities to grow as a professional, educator, and person. I also thank

Dr. Tracy Hoover for her advice on teaching and research. Her guidance in these

areas helped me improve professionally and prepared me to help others do the same.

Enormous thanks go to Dr. Theresa Ferrari who took Dr. Daniel Perkins' place on my

committee after he left the University of Florida. I extend deepest gratitude to Dr.

Ferrari for helping me understand many youth development concepts, developing the

theoretical framework for this study, and editing the first drafts of this dissertation. I

owe special thanks to Dr. Michael E. Kane, whose constant support of my research

project and research area means a great deal. I also thank Dr. Kane for offering great

advice for my graduate experience, professional development, and plans for the

future. Finally, I am deeply indebted to Dr. Steve Jacob for making me a better

researcher. It is because of Dr. Jacob's persistence for sound theory, methodology,








and analysis, that this research project was a success. I will be forever grateful to

these five individuals for the time, advice, and support they gave me.

I thank Carol Keiper-Bennet for taking on the tireless task of entering the data

collected in this study. I also thank Carol and Tammy Kohlleppel for their friendship,

advice, and patience with me during the writing of this dissertation.

I also extend my appreciation to the teachers who participated in this study. I

thank the parents who let their students participate in this study. Without these

teachers and students, this research would not have been possible.

Surviving graduate school is not always easy and would not be possible

without outside support. I am deeply grateful to Jeff Maggard, whose love and

constant encouragement helped me through the even the most difficult times. There

are not enough words to express how thankful I am to him.

Finally, I thank my family for their continual and unwavering support

throughout my entire educational career. My parents have always encouraged me to

do my best at whatever task I choose. This encouragement and their belief in me

allowed me to reach this point in my life. My sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles

have also provided much support that has contributed to my success.














TABLE OF CONTENTS

DEDICATION ............................................................................................................. iii

A CKN OW LED GM EN TS ........................................................................................... iv

LIST OF TABLES....................................................................................................... ix

LIST OF FIGURES .................................................................................................... xii

ABSTRA CT............................................................................................................... xiii

CHAPTER 1. IN TRODU CTION ................................................................................ 1
Purpose of the Study................................................................................................. 5
Definitions................................................................................................................. 6
Research Questions and Hypotheses ........................................................................ 9
Research Question 1 ............................................................................................. 9
Research Question 2 ............................................................................................. 9
Research Question 3 ........................................................................................... 10
Research Question 4 ........................................................................................... 10
Research Question 5 ........................................................................................... 10
Theory..................................................................................................................... 11
Theories of Cognitive D evelopm ent................................................................... 12
Piaget's theory of cognitive develop ent.............................................. 12
Vygotsky sociocultural theory and Bandura's theories.......................... 19
Bronfenbrenner's Ecology of Human Development........................................... 23
Experiential Learning Theory............................................................................. 28
Theoretical Relationships.................................................................................... 31
Summ ary Statem ent of the Problem ....................................................................... 35


CHAPTER 2. REVIEW OF LITERATURE............................................................. 39
Benefits of Gardening.......................................................................................... 39
History of School Gardens...................................................................................... 44
Benefits of School Gardens .................................................................................... 48
M oral Developm ent............................................................................................ 49
A cadem ic Learning............................................................................................. 50
Sense of Com m unity........................................................................................... 51
Environm ental Aw areness.................................................................................. 51
School Garden Research......................................................................................... 52
Research with Teachers U sing School Gardens................................................. 53









Research with Students U sing School Gardens.................................................. 54
Interview research ......................................................................................... 55
Survey research ............................................................................................. 58
Youth Developm ental Assets............................................................................. 64
Positive values .................................................................................................... 66
Social competencies............................................................................................ 67
Com m itm ent to learning .................................................................................... 68
Student Attitudes toward Science............................................................................... 69
Student Attitudes toward the Environm ent................................................................. 79
Sum m ary of Literature ...............................................................................................81


CHAPTER 3. M ETHODOLOGY ................................. ...................... .................. .... 86
Participant Selection .................................................................................. .... 86
M easuring the Dependent Variables............................ ............... ......................... 88
M easuring the Independent Variables ................................... ........................... 94
Individual Factors ..................................................... ............. ....................... 94
Typology of School Gardens .............................................................. .. .......... 95
Procedure for Data Collection ................. .................................................... ......... 104
Pilot Test .............................................................................................................. 104
Student Survey.................................................................................................. 106
Teacher Survey ................................................................................. ................ 107
Statistical Procedures............................................................................ ............ .... 107


CHA PTER 4. RESULTS AND AN ALYSIS..................................... ...................... 109
Research Question 1 ............................................................................................ 109
Research Question 2 ....................................................... ...................................... 124
Research Question 3 ............................................................................................. 126
Research Question 4 ....................................................... ...................................... 132
Research Question 5 ............................................................................................. 134


CHAPTER 5. DISCU SSION ................................................................................... 140
Study Sum m ary..................................................................................................... 140
Purpose of this Study....................................................................... ......... ............ 142
D discussion of Findings...................................................................................... .... 144
Research Question 1 ......................................................................................... 144
Research Question 2 ......................................................................................... 150
Research Question 3 ...................................................................... ........ ........... 151
Research Question 4 ......................................................................................... 155
Research Question 5 ............ ................................................................. ............ 157
Lim stations of the Study.................. ................................................... ................... 160
Im plications ........................................................................................................... 161
Implications for Theory .................................................................................... 161
Im plications related to cognitive theory............................................ .......... 162
Implications related to socioccultural theory and social cognitive........... 162


vii








Implications related to ecological theory.................................................... 163
Implications related to experiential learning theory.................................... 164
Implications for Future Research...................................................................... 165
M ethodological issues................................................................................. 165
A additional studies........................................................................................ 167
Im plications for Practice................................................................................... 170
Contributions of this Study................................................................................... 175


R EFEREN CES ......................................................................................................... 177


APPENDIXES
APPENDIX A. FLOWER SCALE USED IN STUDENT SURVEY..................... 186


APPENDIX B. SCALE RELIABILITY AND CORRELATIONAL
ST A T IST IC S ............................................................................................................ 187


APPENDIX C. SAMPLE CONSENT LETTER...................................................... 192


APPENDIX D. SAMPLE INSTRUCTIONS FOR TEACHERS............................ 194


APPENDIX E. SAMPLE PROBLEMS AND EXAMPLES FOR TEACHERS .... 196


APPENDIX F. CORRELATION STATISTICS OF TYPOLOGY FACTORS ..... 197


APPENDIX G. ANCOVA STATISTICS FOR TYPOLOGY FACTORS............. 199


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.................................................................................... 200














LIST OF TABLES


Table
1-1. Piaget's stages of cognitive development........................................................... 14


1-2. National Association for the Education Of Young Children's guidelines.......... 18


3-1. Number of classes, teachers, and students participating in the study................. 89


3-2. Univariate statistics for dependent variables scales ........................................... 96


3-3. Possible factors to measure school garden intensity........................................ 103


3-4. Typology of school garden programs............................................................... 104


4-1. The num ber of hours a week............................................................................ 110


4-2. The percent of time the garden is used as an instructional tool........................ 110


4-3. Subject areas into which teachers have incorporated school gardening........... 111


4-4. The number of years that school gardening....................................................... 112


4-5. Forms of volunteer help teachers use............................................................... 114


4-6. Sources of information teachers use to assist.................................................... 115


4-7. Types of educational materials teachers use to support................................... 116








4-8. How teachers and students utilized the end product of their garden............... 116


4-9. Most common science sunshine state standards............................................... 119


4-10. Garden-related activities students participated in prior.................................. 120


4-11. The number of garden-related activities students........................................... 120


4-12. Number and percentage of classes and students............................................. 123


4-13. Descriptive statistics of possible factors to measure...................................... 125


4-14. Typology of responsibility scores.................................................................. 126


4-15. Analysis of responsibility scores main effects ............................................ 127


4-16. Typology of attitudes toward science scores.................................................. 128


4-17. Analysis of science attitude scores main effects......................................... 129


4-18. Typology of attitudes toward science scores based on gender....................... 130


4-19. Analysis of science attitude scores interactions.......................................... 131


4-20. Typology of attitudes toward the usefulness of science................................. 132


4-21. Analysis of usefulness of science study attitude scores main effects.......... 133


4-22. Typology of attitudes toward usefulness of science study ........................... 134


4-23. Analysis of usefulness of science study attitude scores interactions........... 135










4-24. Typology of Environmental Attitudes............................................................. 136


4-25. Analysis of Environmental Attitude Scores Main Effects......................... 136


4-26. Typology Of Attitudes Toward The Garden................................................... 137


4-27. Analysis of Garden Attitude Scores- Main Effects .................................... 138


4-28. Analysis of Garden Attitude Scores Interactions .................................... 139














LIST OF FIGURES


Figure

1-1. Triadic reciprocality: relationship of person and environment.......................... 22


1-2. Bronfenbrenner's ecological model.................................................................... 25


1-3. Experiential learning model................................................................................ 30


3-1. Distribution of number of activity scores......................................................... 104














Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

THE GROWING PHENOMENON OF SCHOOL GARDENS:
CULTIVATING POSITIVE YOUTH DEVELOPMENT

By

Sonja Marie Skelly

August 2000

Chairperson: Dr. Jennifer Campbell Bradley
Major Department: Environmental Horticulture

Several youth development theories (cognitive, social cognitive, and

ecological) provided the theoretical framework for a study of school gardens and their

impact on youth. A teacher questionnaire was developed to gain insight into how

teachers use school gardens with their students and in their curriculum. The

information gathered from 28 third-grade teachers was used to develop a multi-level

framework that would serve as the independent variable of analysis. Elements of

positive youth development (responsibility and attitudes towards science, the

environment, and the garden) of 427 third-grade students were investigated. These

elements were examined in relation to school garden intensity and form.

Descriptive statistics showed that teachers were using school gardens in many

different ways and to varying degrees. This variation among gardens was simplified

into a multi-level framework based on intensity, measured by the number of garden-

related activities students participated in prior to and while in the garden (high,








medium, and low) and the form of school gardens (flower, vegetable, or combination

flower/vegetable). This typology consisted of nine types of gardens: (a) low-intensity

flower garden, (b) low-intensity vegetable garden, (c) low-intensity combination

garden, (d) medium-intensity vegetable garden, (e) medium-intensity flower garden,

(f) medium-intensity combination garden, (g) high-intensity vegetable garden, (h)

high-intensity flower garden, and (i) high-intensity combination garden. Analysis of

covariance was to determine if there were significant differences among the nine

types of school gardens. Significant differences were found among the school garden

types and students' attitudes toward science, attitudes toward the usefulness of

science study, and attitudes toward gardens. While there were no significant

differences among school garden types and students' responsibility scores and

environmental attitudes, scores for each of these elements were very high (indicating

a sense of responsibility and a positive environmental attitude) with little variation.














CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION


"A garden is a wonderfully interesting and exciting place in which children

can play, work, and learn" (Herd 1997, p. 6). Many teachers throughout America

who praise the wonders and benefits of school gardens are echoing this statement.

Schools and teachers have been using gardens to teach their students since the 1800s.

Throughout the past 200 years, school gardening has been championed by many

teachers who believe school gardens provide the best way to enhance classroom

lessons (Becker, 1995; Berghom, 1988; Braun, 1989; Canaris, 1995; Gwynn, 1988; In

Virginia, 1992; Neer, 1990; Stetson, 1991). Even today the practice is becoming

more widespread. Currently, every one of the 8,000 public schools in the state of

California either has a school garden, has one being installed, or has plans to install a

garden (Peyser & Weingarten, 1998). Obviously, many educators are realizing the

value and benefit of gardens to their school and students. Gardens provide an

environment in which students can learn to work with teachers, parents, and

volunteers while growing plants and discovering the relationships among people,

plants, and wildlife (Alexander, North, & Hendren, 1995).

The first educational gardens were found in Europe as early as 1525 AD. One

of the first proponents of the school garden was Fredrick Froebel who founded the

first kindergarten in 1840. Froebel's kindergarten, which translated means child

garden, was designed so that students could learn through light gardening (Bachert,








1976). School gardens in America have existed since the late 1800s. At first, the

idea of gardening at school was slow to catch on, with only five known gardens

before 1900. This number rose dramatically over the next decade with 80,000

reported school gardens by 1910.

One of the first educators to document the benefits of school gardening was

Maria Montessori. Montessori (1912) believed that children working in a garden

would learn moral education and an appreciation of nature. Montessori noted that

gardens benefited children in several ways. Children developed a sense of

responsibility by caring for plants and learned patience by waiting for plants to grow.

She also reported that interpersonal skills improved after working in the garden.

During the 20th century, school gardens have grown in popularity and many

schools are now using gardens to supplement their lessons. One study conducted

found that students who were taught in school gardens and vegetated areas of school

grounds had higher scores for general botanical knowledge than students who

received instruction with little or no vegetation at their school (Harvey, 1989).

Additionally, many studies have found that involvement in outdoor activities,

including gardening, can have positive effects on children's environmental attitudes,

making them more environmentally conscious (Harvey, 1989; Skelly, 1997).

Interest in school gardens is not limited to the United States. Many

elementary and junior high schools in Japan regularly participate in agricultural

activities. Japanese schools have farms directly on school property or in close

proximity. Farming and gardening practices are being used in 70 to 80% of primary

schools and in 40 to 50% of secondary schools. The students grow a variety of








vegetables and view the garden as a fun activity (Konoshima, 1995). Konoshima

found that these agricultural activities led students to a better appreciation and

understanding of nature. In addition, Konoshima remarks that farming activities give

students a heightened sense of self-control and a better discernment of work.

Similarly, a classroom garden program in San Antonio, Texas, reported that

second- and third-grade students who participated in gardening once a week gained

beneficial results after participating in the program. After conducting interviews with

teachers, parents, and students, researchers reported that the garden project gave

students the opportunity to learn about "delayed gratification, independence,

cooperation, self-esteem, enthusiasm/anticipation, nurturing living things, motivation,

pride in their activities, and exposure to role models from different walks of life"

(Alexander et al., 1995, p. 259). Additionally, researchers reported that parental

involvement and enthusiasm increased as children participated in the garden; many

teachers stated that children convinced their parents to grow gardens at home.

Children also were found to have a greater sense of community as they worked in

their gardens at school and at home. The garden is a hands-on educational tool. After

interviewing the involved teachers, researchers reported that the garden can be related

to all subjects and "puts it in a way the kids are able to understand" (Alexander et al.,

1995, p. 259).

One reason students may learn better through school gardens is that working

in a garden and with nature may require "involuntary attention" (Kaplan, 1973, p.

146). Kaplan states that people report being fascinated with nature and specifically

gardening because of the intrigue of growing things. It is such fascination that leads








to involuntary attention, an effortless non-competing mind set. Kaplan argues that if

gardening can result in involuntary attention, benefits are likely. Benefits can include

a rest for the mind from effort due to constant attention as well as a rest from

competing thoughts of worries and cares.

Teachers have been using school gardens for a number of reasons, for

example, students' learning was made more meaningful by garden lessons (Canaris,

1995; Kutsunai, 1994; Levenston, 1988). Educators also reported that students are

involved in prediction making and inquiry-based learning through gardening

activities. Teamwork, nurturing, caring for something other than themselves and

seeing the product of these life skills are other anecdotal benefits students derive from

the garden (Canaris, 1995). School gardens also lend themselves as instructional

tools for all subjects such as reading, art, music, and social studies, going beyond the

traditional math and science lessons a garden typically offers (Canaris, 1995; Eames-

Sheavly, 1994; Levenston, 1988). Skelly and Bradley (2000) in a study with Florida

elementary school teachers, found that 97% of the thirty-five teachers surveyed used

their gardens to teach environmental education. Eighty-four percent of these teachers

agreed that their school garden helped students learn better. Experiential learning

was cited by about three quarters of the teachers as an additional reason they used the

school garden. In contrast to the positive reports of school gardens, one study found

no differences among attitudes toward school, interpersonal relationships and self-

esteem levels of students participating in gardening programs and students not

participating in gardening programs (Waliczek, 1997). Waliczek also found that

different types of gardening programs had different affects on students' school






5

attitudes. The research proposed in this study intends to continue to look at different

types of school gardening programs and their affect on students.

The benefits of school gardens in promoting positive youth development have

been minimally addressed through scientific research. Researching the role school

gardens may have on the cognitive and social development of students has also

received very little attention. In the past, research on school gardens has focused on

teachers' uses of school gardens (DeMarco, 1999; Skelly & Bradley, 2000), impact

on environmental attitudes (Skelly, 1997; Waliczek, 1997), knowledge (Waliczek,

1997) and nutrition (Lineberger & Zajicek, 2000). To date, variables related to

positive youth development (possession of youth developmental assets, positive

attitudes toward science, and positive attitudes toward the environment) have not

been examined in the context of school gardens.



Purpose of the Study

Studies concerning the benefits and effects of school gardens on students are

limited. Previous studies explored differences among students participating in garden

programs and students not participating in garden programs. Although these research

endeavors shed light on some of the benefits students gain from school gardens, there

has not been a research study that examines how teachers are currently using school

gardens. The initial goal of this study was to determine how teachers are using school

gardens and what, if any, type of variation in use. Knowledge of how teachers use

school gardens, and the different approaches that may exist is important information

for developing a model that explains differences among students. An additional









purpose of this study was to explore the impact of school garden variation on

elements of positive youth development.

Specifically, this study was designed to accomplish the following purposes:

1. Determine how teachers use school gardens with their students and within

their curriculum, and if variation exists in the uses of school gardens.

2. Determine the factors) that contribute to the intensity of a school garden

program.

3. Develop a multi-level framework that incorporates both school garden

intensity and school garden form (flower, vegetable, or combination

flower/vegetable) to explore elements of positive youth development:

youth developmental assets (achievement motivation, school engagement,

responsibility, and interpersonal competence) and students' attitudes

toward science, the environment, and the school garden.

4. Adapt existing measures, or develop new measures, to enable the study of

school gardens.

5. Provide theoretical and empirical support that will assist with the design

and use of school gardens for elementary-age children.



Definitions

The key concepts used in this study are defined below.

Cognitive development. Development is defined by Good and Brophy

(1995, p. 29) as "an orderly progression to increasingly higher levels of both

differentiation and integration of the components of a system." Cognitive








development therefore refers to the development of cognition or "the act or process of

knowing" (Woolf, 1981, p. 215).

Youth developmental assets. While there are many ways to assess youth

development, for the purposes of this study, the focus will be on certain

developmental assets, or the "positive relationships, opportunities, skills, and values

that help young people grow up healthy" (Scales & Leffert, 1999, p. 1).

Achievement motivation. Achievement motivation is a developmental asset

addressing a young person's motivation to do well in school.

School engagement. Scales and Leffert (1999, p. 122) define this

developmental asset as the "feeling of connectedness to school."

Responsibility. Responsibility is a developmental asset that children develop

when they learn to accept and take personal accountability (Benson et al., 1997).

Interpersonal competence. Interpersonal competence refers to the

developmental asset addressing a child's ability to interact with adults and peers as

well as to make friends.

Science attitudes. Science attitudes refers to students' attitudes toward their

science teacher, science class, usefulness of science study, and being a scientist

(Yager & Yager, 1985).

Environmental attitudes. Environmental attitudes refers to students'

attitudes toward the environment, environmental policies, and environmental issues.

Garden attitudes. Garden attitudes refers to students' attitudes toward the

school garden they use and the activities associated with the garden.








School garden. A school garden is a piece of school property where plants

are grown and horticulture is practiced as an educational strategy and learning tool

(DeMarco, 1999).

School garden form. The form of the garden refers to the types of plants

grown in the garden. In this study three forms were observed: vegetable garden (a

garden that contains only vegetable plants), flower garden (a garden that contains

only flowering or ornamental plants), and a combination vegetable/flower garden (a

garden containing both vegetable and flowering or ornamental plants).

School garden intensity. School garden intensity is the level at which

teachers and students design, use, and integrate a school garden. Factors determining

intensity include, but are not limited to: amount of time students spend in the garden,

activities students participate in while in the garden, percentage of time that the

teacher uses the garden as an instructional tool in the classroom, and number and type

of subject areas into which school gardening has been incorporated.

School garden type. School garden type is a concept created by combining

school garden form (flower, vegetable, combination flower/vegetable) and school

garden intensity (high, medium, and low).

Sunshine State Standards. The Sunshine State Standards are the Florida

Department of Education's list of educational standards that teachers are to address

for each grade level (Florida Department of Education, 2000).








Research Questions and Hypotheses

The following research questions and related hypotheses were examined in

this study. Hypotheses were advanced when previous research was sufficient to

indicate a relationship. The remaining research questions were considered

exploratory and therefore no hypotheses were developed.



Research Question 1

1.1 How and to what degree are teachers using school gardens?

1.2 What factors contribute to the intensity of a school garden program?

1.3 Do school gardens vary in intensity and form?



Research Question 2

2.1 Do students using school gardens possess the youth developmental

assets of achievement motivation, school engagement, responsibility,

and interpersonal competence?

2.2 Do students possess the youth developmental assets of achievement

motivation, school engagement, responsibility, and interpersonal

competence in varying degrees depending on school garden type?

Hypothesis: There is a positive relationship between the number of youth

developmental assets students possess and school garden type.








Research Question 3

3.1 In what ways do students' attitudes toward science differ depending on

school garden type?

3.2 In what ways do students' attitudes toward science differ based on a

variety of personal and social context variables?

Hypothesis: Students' attitudes toward science do not differ by gender in the

third grade.

Hypothesis: There is a positive relationship between students' attitudes

toward science and school garden type.



Research Question 4

4.1 In what ways do students' attitudes toward the environment differ

depending on school garden type?

4.2 In what ways do students' attitudes toward the environment differ

based on a variety of personal and social context variables?

Hypothesis: Students' attitudes toward the environment do not differ by

gender in the third grade.

Hypothesis: There is a positive relationship between students' attitudes

toward the environment and school garden type.



Research Question 5

5.1 In what ways do students' attitudes toward school gardens differ

depending on school garden type?








Theory

Typically, a school garden may be viewed as a teaching technique and not a

place where cognitive and social-cognitive development occurs. However, as many

teachers anecdotally point out, the school garden is a place that enhances learning,

promotes cooperation, and teaches children responsibility (Anon, 1992; Becker, 1995;

Berghom, 1988; Braun, 1989; Canaris, 1995; Davies, 1995; Gwynn, 1988; Neer,

1990; Stetson, 1991). These benefits can be interpreted as manifestations of

children's cognitive and social-cognitive development. Additionally, many teachers

use and promote gardening as the ideal forum for experiential learning (Anon, 1992;

Barron, 1993; Craig, 1997; Kutsunai, 1994). While such anecdotal evidence is

important for recognizing the possible benefits school gardens may hold for students,

it is first important to have an understanding of the theories that underlie cognitive

and social-cognitive development and experiential learning. Within the framework of

educational psychology, "the study of thoughts and actions that are related to how we

teach and learn" (Gage & Berliner, 1988, p. 3), are several theories that focus

specifically on the cognitive development of children. Development is defined by

Good and Brophy (1995, p. 29) as "an orderly progression to increasingly higher

levels of both differentiation and integration of the components of a system."

Cognitive development therefore refers to the development of cognition or "the act or

process of knowing" (Woolf, 1981, p. 215). The following combination of cognitive

development, social-cognitive development, human ecological and experiential

learning theories has the potential to enhance future studies in the area of school

gardens.









The following sections outline the predominant and pertinent theories of

cognitive development, social-cognitive development, human ecological

development, and experiential learning. How these theories are related and how they

pertain to a study of school gardens also is addressed.



Theories of Cognitive Development

Piaget's theory of cognitive development

Jean Piaget introduced the first theory of cognitive development. The premise

of Piaget's theory is that "children actively construct their own knowledge of the

environment using what they already know to interpret new events and objects"

(Meece, 1997, p. 118). This theory is the basis for constructivism, or the idea that

children construct their knowledge from experience with the environment around

them. Additionally, Piaget postulated that development occurs through a series of

stages that humans pass through as they grow older. Piaget reasoned that as humans

try to make sense of the world, the thinking processes change radically and become

more complex from birth to maturity. Piaget defined three influences on cognitive

development; maturity through biological changes, ability to act on and learn from

the environment through social transmission or interaction with others, and

equilibration (Meece, 1997; Woolfork, 1998).

Piaget's theory of cognitive development also characterized two tendencies in

thinking. The first tendency is to organize, combine, arrange, recombine and

rearrange thoughts into congruous systems. These systems are arranged into schemes

or "cognitive, verbal, and behavioral frameworks that are developed to organize









learning and to guide behavior" (Good & Brophy, 1995, p. 33). Another tendency is

adaptation or adjustment to the environment. Our ability to adapt is based on two

processes that occur simultaneously. The first process is assimilation, which allows

people to use existing schemes to make sense of the world. The second process is

accommodation. Accommodation requires a person to assess a new situation or

information and to determine if it fits into an existing theme. If the new situation or

information does not fit, accommodation allows people to change a scheme or

develop a more appropriate scheme so that the new information will fit. Cognitive

development occurs because of a person's ability to integrate new information into

existing schemes or by the construction of new schemes. Piaget reasoned further that

in order for human beings to maintain a balance between accommodation and

assimilation, people must maintain equilibrium between the two. This idea of

equilibrium is one of Piaget's fundamental assumptions; "people strive for

equilibration as they impose order and meaningfulness on their experiences" (Good &

Brophy, 1995, p. 4).

Piaget's theory rests on the process of cognitive development through scheme

construction and on the stages during which schemes develop. Piaget defined four

stages of cognitive development: sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operations,

and formal operations (Table 1-1). Each stage represents an increasingly complex

level of cognitive development from birth to adulthood. According to Piaget,

children proceed through these stages in the same sequence; it is not possible to skip a

stage, nor is it possible to revert to a previous stage. Piaget defined age ranges for






14


each group, although he recognized that these ranges are general and may be affected

by individual and cultural factors (Meece, 1997).




Table 1-1. Piaget's stages of cognitive development.
Stage Age Characteristics
Sensorimotor Birth to 2 years Move from reflexive behavior to goal-directed behavior
Means: end thinking
Object permanence: objects continue to exist even
when they are not in sight


Preoperational


Concrete
operations


2 to 7 years


7 to 12 years


* Language development
* Ability to think and solve problems intuitively, through
symbols
* Thinking is rigid, centered, and egocentric

* Ability to think logically due to attainment of seriation,
classification, conservation, negation, reversible
thinking, identity, and compensation
* Able to solve hands-on, concrete problems logically
* Adopt another's perspective
* Consider intentions in moral reasoning


Formal operations 12 years and beyond Hypothetical and purely symbolic (complex verbal)
thinking
Development of abstract systems of thought
More scientific thinking that allows the use of
propositional logic, scientific reasoning, and
proportional reasoning
Concerns over identity and social issues
Adapted from Good & Brophy (1995, p. 37) and Meece (1997, p. 119)



The first of Piaget's stages is the sensorimotor stage, which occurs from birth

to two years. During this stage children acquire the schemes of goal-directed

behavior and object permanence. According to Piaget, these schemes provide the

foundation for symbolic thinking and human intelligence (Meece, 1997). The next

stage of cognitive development is the preoperational stage occurring from age 2 to 7.

Children in the preoperational stage are beginning to think about objects, people,

and/or events even when they are absent. Their ability to use symbols gestures,









words, numbers, and images as representations of their environment is a major

accomplishment of the preoperational stage. This ability increases as the child moves

through this stage, but remains limiting as children lack the ability to perform logical

operations (Meece, 1997; Woolfork, 1998).

The third stage of cognitive development is the concrete operational stage,

occurring from age 7 to 12, and is characterized by a child's ability to solve concrete

or hands-on problems in a logical fashion. Children in this stage also are able to

understand the laws of conservation, classification, seriation, and reversibility (Good

& Brophy, 1995; Woolfork, 1998). Children in this stage of development are also

less centrated and egocentric. At this stage of development, children's thinking

becomes less rigid and more flexible and children are no longer basing their

judgements on the appearance of things (Meece, 1997).

For the purposes of this study, children ages 9 to 10 were the subjects under

investigation, therefore a more thorough discussion of the concrete operational stage

follows. A key feature of the concrete operational stage is the ability of children to

understand the laws of conservation, reversibility, classification, and seriation.

Conservation reasoning is one of the hallmarks of the concrete operational stage.

"Conservation involves the understanding that an entity remains the same despite

superficial changes in its form or physical appearance" (Meece, 1997, p. 133). This

ties in to children's ability to base their reasoning, not on physical appearance, but on

an understanding of identity. Understanding identity means that children realize that

a material remains the same if nothing is taken away or if nothing is added.

Additionally children begin to understand reversibility, or the knowledge that a









change in one direction can be compensated by a change in another direction

(Woolfork, 1998).

Another premise of the concrete operational stage is the child's ability to

accomplish reversible thinking. Reversible thinking allows a child to classify objects

in more than one dimension due to their ability to reverse an operation. For example,

a child may first classify an object based on color and then reclassify it based on

shape. This ability to recognize multiple dimensions allows children in the concrete

operational stage to acquire advanced classification skills. The ability to classify was

believed by Piaget to be central to this stage. While children in the preoperational

stage have the ability to classify, it is usually limited to one dimension, such as shape

or color. Children in the concrete operational stage begin to recognize that objects

have more than one dimension and are able to classify based on hierarchical order

(Berk, 2000). Classification skills allow children to impose order on their

environment by organizing objects according to similar elements. The final hallmark

of Piaget's concrete operational stage is the child's ability to order object in a logical

progression or seriation. Seriation is a necessary skill for understanding numbers,

time, and measurement (Meece, 1997).

The concrete operational child's ability to conserve, reverse, classify, and

seriate objects allows for a logical system of thinking. This logical thinking, however

is still tied to the physical reality and is based on concrete situations that can be

organized, classified, or manipulated. While children in this stage of cognitive

development are capable of higher orders of thinking, they are not yet able to reason

about hypothetical or abstract problems (Woolfork, 1998).









The final stage of cognitive development is the formal operational stage from

11 to 12 years and onward. Emerging from the concrete operational stage, older

children have acquired the skills and mental operations they will need to begin more

elaborate systems of logical and abstract thinking. During this stage, children's

thinking progresses from what is reality, to what might be the possible. These

students can think about things they may never have experienced, generate ideas

about what might have happened, and make predictions about what may happen in

the future. Key elements of the formal operations stage are that students are able to

think hypothetically and symbolically, to develop abstract systems of thought, to use

scientific reasoning, and to reason hypothetico-deductively (Meece, 1997). Children

and adolescents develop these attributes of formal operations over time and some

psychologists debate whether all adults reach the formal operational stage (Woolfork,

1998). Neimark (1975) contends that

the first three stages of Piaget's theory are forced on most people by physical
realities. Formal operations, however, are not so closely tied to the physical
environment. They may be the product of experience and of practice in
solving hypothetical problems and using formal scientific reasoning. These
abilities tend to be valued and taught in literate cultures, particularly in
colleges and universities. (Woolfork, 1998, p. 38)

In regards to educational practices, Piaget's theory helps define some

recommended practices for the classroom. Much of what Piaget theorized falls in line

with current constructivists' views on teaching and learning. The underlying

assumption of constructivism is that children construct their own understandings of

the world in which they live. Children cannot simply have knowledge transmitted to

them; they must act on the knowledge by manipulating and transforming it so that it

makes sense to them. The National Council for Teachers of Mathematics and the









National Science Teachers Association have called for "classrooms where problem

solving, 'hands-on' experimentation, concept development, logical reasoning, and

authentic learning are emphasized" (Meece,1997, p. 117). As an example of how

Piaget's theory applies to the classroom, Table 1-2 provides a list of guidelines set

forth by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC,

1987) for teaching and learning.


Table 1-2. National Association For The Education Of Young Children's
Guidelines For Teaching And Learning.
Appropriate Practices
Teachers prepare learning environments for children to learn through active exploration and
interaction with adults, other children, and materials.
Children are expected to be physically and mentally active. Teachers recognize that children learn
from self-directed problem solving and experimentation.
Children are provided concrete learning activities with materials and content relevant to their lives.
Children select many of their own activities from a variety of learning areas, including dramatic play,
blocks, science, math games and puzzles, art, and music.
Teachers move around groups and individuals to facilitate children's involvement with materials and
activities.
Teachers accept that there is often more than one right answer. Teachers focus on how children
justify and explain their answers.
Inappropriate Practices
Teachers use highly structured, teacher-directed lessons.
Teachers direct all the activities, deciding what children will do and when. Teachers do the activity
for the child.
A major portion of children's learning time is spent passively listening, sitting, and waiting.
Large-group, teacher-directed instruction is used most of the time.
Workbooks, ditto sheets, flashcards, and other similarly structured abstract materials dominate the
curriculum.
Teachers dominate the instructional process by talking, telling, and showing.
Children are expected to respond correctly with one right answer. Rote memorization is emphasized.
Source: Meece, 1997, p. 149. Reprinted with permission.


Piaget's theory provides a basis for understanding how children's thinking and

learning develop as they grow. There are, however, problems with Piaget's theory.

Contemporary theorists have questioned the age categories Piaget assigned to the

stages of development. These theorists contend that Piaget underestimated the ability

of younger children. Additionally, Piaget also received criticism for not considering








the social and cultural contexts within which children grow and develop as a factor in

cognitive development (Meece, 1997). However, many educational psychologists

regard Piaget's theory as theoretical rationale for constructivist, discovery, inquiry,

and problem-solving teaching practices that are used in classrooms today (Meece,

1997).

Other theories concerning cognitive development have emerged and are just

as important when trying to understand how cognitive development occurs. While

Piaget's theory of cognitive development helps us understand how children reason

and think about the world, Lev Vygotsky's sociocultural theory and Albert Bandura's

social cognitive theory of development help us understand the social processes that

influence the development of intellectual abilities in children.



Vygotsky's sociocultural theory and Bandura's social cognitive development
theory

Vygotsky's theory focuses on the social relationships of children and how

these relationships affect their cognitive development. The foundation of Vygotsky's

theory lies in his assertion that it is cultural institutions and social activities, not

innate factors that shape an individual's thinking patterns. Vygotsky's theory is

founded on his belief that cognitive development occurs as children internalize the

products of their social interactions (Meece, 1997).

Vygotsky contended that children are born with certain innate abilities such as

perception, attention, and memory, and by interacting with more knowledgeable

adults these abilities are shaped into higher mental functions. He believed that








children internalize these functions and this internalization of physical actions and/or

mental operations results in cognitive development (Meece, 1997).

Much of Vygotsky's theory is based on the role of language and symbolic

thought in a child's cognitive development. He believed that language and

manifestations of language books, numbers and mathematical systems, signs, and so

forth play a very important role in the development of children. Language is a means

for expressing one's ideas, asking questions, linking the past and the future, and

applying order to one's environment (Woolfork, 1998). Language, through various

stages of speech, provides the basis for development. Social speech is the first stage

of language and is used primarily for communicating. The next stage of language and

thought is egocentric speech, which children use to regulate their behavior and

thinking. Egocentric speech is sometimes referred to as private speech as children

speak out loud to themselves to help them perform tasks. The final stage of speech

development is inner speech, where children internalize their egocentric or private

speech (Meece, 1997; Woolfork, 1998).

One of the most important constructs set forth by Vygotsky is the zone of

proximal development. The zone of proximal development deals with a child's

potential for growth rather than their actual growth. Vygotsky defined the zone of

proximal development as

those functions that have not yet matured but are in the process of maturation,
functions that will mature tomorrow but are currently in an embryonic state.
These functions could be termed the 'buds' or 'flowers' of development rather
than the 'fruits' of development. The actual development level characterizes
mental development retrospectively, while the zone of proximal development
characterizes mental development prospectively. (Meece, 1997, p. 154)








In terms of education, instruction should precede development and awaken those

functions that are in the process of maturing. Vygotsky argued that for a child to

develop fully, the child should take part in progressively more complex levels of

functioning. This idea of leading children into more complex levels of function is

known as intellectual scaffolding (Gage & Berliner, 1988).

Scaffolding is based on the idea that adults help guide children's intellectual

development. The goal of scaffolding is to shift responsibility for a task from the

adult to the child. This is accomplished by the adult providing support to the child by

performing or directing elements of the task that are beyond the child's ability

(Meece, 1997).

In addition to the role of the adult in Vygotsky's theory, is the role of a child's

peers. Peers can influence development when they say something that is in conflict

with what the child thinks. From a Piagetian perspective, when conflict arises, it is

necessary for the child to accommodate or assimilate the new information and regain

equilibrium. Within the framework of Vygotsky's theory, peer influence on

development occurs through collaborative problem solving among children.

Vygotsky's theory of cognitive development shifts the emphasis of development from

the child (Piaget) to the adult and peers. While these theories of learning are thought

to be accurate, contemporary theorists such as Albert Bandura feel they are

incomplete. To further the theories of learning and cognitive development, Bandura

proposes a social-cognitive theory (Bandura, 1986; Woolfork, 1998).

Bandura (1986, p. 483) states that "most cognitive skills and structures used in

daily pursuits are cultivated socially, rather than sociallyy" According to Bandura,








the social cognitive view of development is that neither innate abilities nor external

stimuli drive development, rather development is explained by the notion of triadic

reciprocality. Triadic reciprocality explains development as the result of behavior

(individual actions, choices, and verbal statements), personal factors (beliefs,

expectations, attitudes, and knowledge), and environmental events (resources,

consequences of actions, and physical setting) all interacting and influencing each

other (Bandura, 1986; Woolfork, 1998, p. 225) (Figure 1-1). This interaction of

elements is referred to as reciprocal determinism.



Personal Factors




Behavior Environment

Figure 1-1. Triadic reciprocality: Relationship of person and environment as
viewed by social cognitive theory.
Source: Bandura, 1997, p. 6. Reprinted with permission.



Bandura's social cognitive theory also explains two types of learning, enactive

and vicarious learning. Enactive learning is achieved by doing and experiencing the

consequences of one's own actions. Experiencing these consequences is what allows

a person to learn about "appropriate actions, creating expectations, and influencing

motivation" (Woolfork, 1998, p. 225). Contrary to enactive learning is vicarious

learning, or learning by observation. Vicarious learning is accomplished when people

model and imitate others. According to Bandura, other cognitive theories overlook








the power of vicarious learning as people can learn "by watching, [because] they must

be focusing their attention, constructing images, remembering, analyzing, and making

decisions that affect learning" (Woolfork, 1998, p. 225).

In essence, Bandura's theory emphasizes the importance of the interaction

between the person and environment in cognitive development. Bandura (1986)

believes that learning is mediated through five capabilities:

a) the capacity to learn by observation (i.e, through behavior that is modeled),
b) the capacity to manipulate information symbolically, c) the capacity for
forethought (i.e, people are able to anticipate the likely effects of different
events and regulate their behavior accordingly), d) the capacity for self-
reflection, and e) the capacity for self-regulation (i.e, adjusting one's thoughts,
feelings, and actions based on an evaluation of their outcomes) (Ferrari, 1998,
p. 25).

This focus on learning based on interactions among the person, behavior, and the

environment is also a key element in the human ecological theory developed by

Bronfenbrenner. The ecological theory of human development provides a perspective

of development that "reveals connections that might otherwise go unnoticed and

helps us to look beyond the immediate and obvious to see where the most significant

influences lie" (Garbarino, 1982, p. 18).



Bronfenbrenner's Ecology of Human Development

Another important theory for understanding how children develop is the

human ecological model developed by Bronfenbrenner (1979). In the ecological

model, human development is a constant, evolving process of interactions between

humans and the environment. Bronfenbrenner viewed the environment as a








contextual model with multiple structures that are nested and interconnected with the

child at the center of the model (Figure 1-2).

Bronfenbrenner theorized that the child, who is born with certain

temperamental, mental, and physical conditions that dictate his biological

development, does not develop in a vacuum (Meece, 1997). Rather, there are certain

contexts that impact his development, such as family, peers, and school. These

immediate contexts are known as microsystems (blue) because they require the

child's participation and interaction and therefore have a significant impact on the

development of the child (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). These microsystems are

characterized by activities, interpersonal relationships, and roles, which play a vital

role in the two processes that are the "principal engines" of development (Garbarino,

1982, p. 35). These processes include social interaction with numerous people of

varying types as well as engagement in activities and tasks that become increasingly

more complex. These enduring forms of interaction within the environment are also

known as proximal processes.

While the microsystems are the contexts within which the child experiences

most interactions, the outer and connecting systems can be just as important in the

development process. When there is connection between two or more microsystems,

such as between peers and school, a mesosystem is formed. Mesosystems are made

up of important environmental factors such as interpersonal relationships, roles and

activities. More importantly, however, is the "synergistic effects created by the

interaction of developmentally instigative or inhibitory features and processes present

in each setting" (Bronfenbrenner, 1993, p. 22).









































Figure 1-2. Bronfenbrenner's ecological model.
Source: Meece, 1997, p. 29. Reprinted with permission.



At the next level of the model are the connections between two or more

settings or the exosystem (green). The exosystem is at such a level that the child does

not have any direct participation in the components of the exosystem. An example of

an exosystem may be the link between parent's workplace and the home or the

neighborhood and peers. The exosystem, although not directly involved in the








developmental process, still plays a significant role in the development of a child.

Decisions made at the exosystem level are about "the whole range of things that

shape the actual context and process of a child's microsystem" (Garbarino 1982, p.

44) and can significantly impact the child.

The outer most level of Bronfenbrenner's model is the macrosystem (yellow).

The macrosystem includes the influential factors of politics, cultural ideologies,

economic factors, science and technology, and laws. These factors affect all other

systems nested within the macrosystem. Changes at the macrosystem level will

ultimately produce developmental changes within all other contexts (Garbarino,

1982).

In recent years, Bronfenbrenner and Morris (1998) made revisions to the

ecological model. These changes focused on the developmental processes and their

distinction from the environment and redefined the ecological model as the

bioecological model. Within the context of this new model two propositions were

posited. Proposition I states:

human development takes place through processes of progressively more
complex reciprocal interaction between an active, evolving biopsychological
human organism and the persons, objects, and symbols in its immediate
external environment. To be effective, the interaction must occur on a fairly
regular basis over extended periods of time. Such enduring forms of
interaction in the immediate environment are referred to as proximal
processes. (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 1998, p. 996)

Proposition II states:

The form, power, content, and direction of the proximal processes affecting
development vary systematically as a joint function of the characteristics of
the developing person; of the environment-both immediate and remote-in
which the processes are taking place; the nature of the developmental
outcomes under consideration; and the social continuities and changes








occurring over time through the life course and the historical period during
which the person has lived. (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 1998, p. 996)

Bronfenbrenner and Morris (1998) go on to further define the proximal

processes by describing several properties that make these processes distinctive. The

first of these properties states that activity must take place for development to occur.

The second property elaborates on the first by stating that such activity should take

place on a regular basis over an extended period of time for it to be effective.

Additionally, these activities should become increasingly complex and not merely

repetitive. The fourth property explains how the interaction should not be

unidirectional, but rather a degree of reciprocity is necessary. The fifth property of

proximal processes puts forth the notion that the interaction of the proximal process

does not always involve people; interactions may also involve objects and symbols.

In line with the fourth property, these objects and symbols should be such that they

invite attention, exploration, manipulation, elaboration, and imagination. The final

property is concerned with factors specified in Proposition II. In essence, as children

grow older their capacity to develop increases in level and range. If the proximal

processes are to remain effective, they should become more extensive and complex as

development occurs. Although the time between activities can be longer, the

activities should continue to occur on a regular basis. Bronfenbrenner and Morris

further this property by adding that it is not just the parents that function in the

interactive role. As children grow, other persons such as caregivers, siblings,

relatives, peers, teachers, mentors, spouses, coworkers, superiors, and subordinates at

work, respectively, change over time and continue to interact "on a fairly regular

basis over extended periods of time" with the developing person. Essentially, persons








in this role are not restricted to the formative developmental years, but change, as

does the person (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 1998, pp. 996-997).


Experiential Learning Theory

Learning by doing is the cornerstone of experiential learning. The idea that

knowledge is gained through experience is rooted in the teachings of Aristotle

(Zilbert & Leske, 1989). Aristotle's ideas of experience and learning were in contrast

to Plato's theory that knowledge is gained through reasoning, not through one's

senses. "While modem science has largely adopted the empirical view (Aristotle) for

the definition of knowledge, the rational view (Plato) is dominant in the transmission

of knowledge" (Zilbert & Leske, 1989, p. 1). Although the idea of experiential

learning has been around for some time, most formal schooling still educates students

using rational processes, which, in most cases, makes the theories taught seemingly

unrelated to the "real" world (Zilbert & Leske, 1989, p. 1).

John Dewey (1938) was one of the first educators to promote experiential

learning as a viable teaching method that links education, work, and the individual.

Dewey believed that students should learn, not from textbooks, but from direct

learning experiences. Dewey stated that textbooks, while important, do not provide

problems that are real to the student. Only when students are exposed to experiential

learning techniques that maximize their skills in learning from their own experience

can the full potential for learning be realized (Kolb & Lewis, 1986). Since Dewey's

first theories of education and experience, many theories and definitions of

experiential learning have arisen. Keeton and Tate's (1978, p. 2) definition of

experiential learning compiles many of the concepts common to experiential learning








theories: "it [experiential learning] involves direct encounter with the phenomenon

being studied rather than merely thinking about the encounter or only considering the

possibility of doing something with it." Dewey did note, however that not all

experiences are educative. "Only when experiences can be expressed as new ideas,

when the lessons of experience can be drawn, articulated, and acted on, will

development have taken place" (Stone, 1994, p. 6).

One of the most commonly accepted models of experiential learning is Kolb's

(1984) model (Figure 1-3), which is composed of four stages: direct experiences,

reflection and observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation.

The first stage, concrete or direct experience, requires students to have personal

experience with the area/concept being studied. In this first stage, giving students the

opportunity to directly experience the phenomenon being studied can make the

phenomenon more meaningful and relevant (Osborne, 1994). The second stage of

Kolb's experiential learning model is reflection and observation. During this stage

students reflect on and make observations about the completed experience. This

stage is important as students begin to transform the experience into new knowledge.

Abstract conceptualization is the third stage that requires students to generalize about

the experience and elements of the experience, and relate it to existing knowledge.

During the final stage, active experimentation, students develop new theories based

on the generalizations they reached in the third stage and begin to test these new

theories (Osborne, 1994; Stone, 1994).









Direct
Experience


Active Reflection &
Experimentation Observation

~Abstract
Conceptualization


Figure 1-3. Experiential learning model.
Based on Kolb's (1984) model.



For most people, progressing through this cycle occurs subconsciously and it

is up to educators to bring this cycle of learning to the conscious level for learning to

occur (Stone, 1994). Osborne (1994, p. 3) states that most educators have a subject

matter orientation to teaching and hence this starts the learning cycle at stage three

with educators providing students with the "whats," howss," and facts first, with

experiences of the subject matter, if any, coming later. Educators instead, need to

start the learning process with the direct, concrete experiences in order to place the

subject matter into a real-world problem context. Additionally, by starting the

learning cycle with direct and concrete experiences, interest in the subject is usually

stimulated, students are motivated to learn more, and a strong context for reflection

and application is provided (Osbomrne, 1994). According to Proudman (1992, p. 20),

"good experiential learning combines direct experience that is meaningful to the

student with guided reflection and analysis. It is a challenging, active, student-

centered process that impels students toward opportunities for taking initiative,

responsibility and decision making."








Theoretical Relationships

Developing an understanding of children's cognitive development and the role

education plays in that development is important when assessing the possible benefits

an educational technique has on the development of children. The four theories of

cognitive development discussed previously may be seemingly unrelated, but are, in

fact, complimentary when assessing youth development and the many factors that

contribute to such development. The relationships of the above mentioned theories

are summarized below.

1. Children are central figures in their own development.

According to Piaget, children structure their own knowledge. They must act

on new knowledge by manipulating and transforming it so that it makes sense

(Meece, 1997). Vygotsky's theory that social interactions are necessary for

development also gives children a central role as it is their interactions with adults

and peers that can stimulate development. Additionally, Vygotsky's notions of

social, egocentric, and inner speech are indicative of how children shape their own

development. Bandura's view of triadic reciprocality of interacting elements of

personal factors, behavior, and the environment does not put the child in a central

role, but rather as contributing two-thirds of the elements (personal factors and

behavior) to the reciprocality model. Additionally, Bandura's theory of enactive

learning, learning by experiencing the consequences of one's own actions places the

child in a central role. Tying these theories together is Bronfenbrenner's ecological

theory. In Bronfenbrenner's model, the child is placed at the center and is embedded








in all the other systems. His theory puts the child in an environmental context and

depicts how these contexts influence the child's development.

2. Social interactions are key elements for development.

One of the hallmarks of Piaget's theory is his notion of equilibration.

Equilibration occurs when balance is achieved and maintained between what is

known and unknown. Social interaction with adults and peers often results in

conflicting opinion. This conflict will cause children to be in disequilibrium with

their current knowledge and therefore a subsequent reconciliation of the conflict will

occur in order to reach equilibrium. Piaget contended that real intellectual activity

can not occur without social interaction and collaboration with others. Similarly,

Vygotsky's theory of sociocultural development is based on the social interactions of

the child with others. The premise of his theory is that children develop cognitively

when they internalize the products of their social interactions (Meece, 1997). In

addition, one of Vygotsky's most important constructs, the zone of proximal

development, is based on the notion that adults lead children into more complex

levels of functioning and knowledge and therefore enhancing cognitive development

(Gage & Berliner, 1988). This theory of interactions is also tied in with Bandura's

triadic reciprocality concept. Cognitive development in this respect is the result of

skills and structures gained through social interactions within the child's

environment. Bandura's notion of vicarious learning is also centered on the child's

social interaction with others as vicarious learning is done by observing others

(Bandura, 1986; Woolfork, 1998). Bronfenbrenner's ecological model is based on

the synergistic interactions among the child, others, and systems close to and beyond








his immediate realm. Included in "principal engines" of development in

Bronfenbrenner's model are the social interactions with numerous people that over

time become more complex (Garbarino, 1982, p.35).

3. Children's environments play a significant role in their development.

Closely tied to the social interactions children experience that contribute to

their development is the environment in which they are developing. Piaget's main

contention is that children will develop in stages at certain times in their lives. He

does, however, point out that the age ranges that define his stages of development

may be affected by cultural and environmental factors (Meece, 1997). Additionally,

since children construct their own knowledge, according to Piaget, the environment in

which they construct this knowledge is dependent on that environment. Vygotsky's

theory of cognitive development also places the child within the context of his

environment. He believed that it is impossible to understand a child's development

without some understanding of the culture in which the child is reared. Cognitive

development, as he viewed it, is a direct result of the cultural institutions and social

activities a child is exposed to while growing up (Meece, 1997). Within Bandura's

triadic reciprocality model is the environmental factor contributing to cognitive

development. Bandura emphasized the importance of the interactions between a

person and the environment in cognitive development. These interactions are the

basis for learning by observation, symbolic construction, forethought, self-reflection

and self-regulation (Ferrari, 1998; Good & Brophy, 1995). Bronfenbrenner viewed

development as the constant interaction of humans with the environment. While the

child is central to his development, certain environmental contexts have significant








impacts on the child's development. These environmental contexts range from

immediate to far removed, but each influences a child's development through direct

and indirect interactions.

4. Experience is necessary for learning and development.

The final connecting factor of each of these theories is that experience is

essential to a child's cognitive development. Piaget believed that children can not

develop by reading or hearing about principles. "Children need opportunities to

explore, to experiment, to search for answers to their own questions." Additionally,

"knowledge gained from physical experiences must be acted on, transformed, and

compared with existing knowledge structures" (Meece, 1997, p. 146). The age group

in question for this study, 9 to 10 year olds, would be in the concrete operational

stage, according to Piaget. This stage is characterized by a child's ability to solve

problems logically through hand-on, active experimentation. Teaching applications

of Piaget's theory call for classrooms that allow for learning through active

experimentation, self-directed learning through problem solving and experimentation,

and concrete learning experiences that are relevant to their lives (Meece, 1997).

While experience is not one of Vygotsky's theoretical premises, his zone of proximal

development notion can be tied to experiences. In theory, if a child is introduced to a

new experience she/he can learn from it through interactions with more

knowledgeable adults who help him to understand the experience. Experience is also

important to Bandura's social cognitive theory when seen in the context of enactive

learning. Enactive learning takes place when a child learns from his own experiences

(Bandura, 1986). Without experiences, an important type of learning, as defined by








Bandura, is neglected. Bronfenbrenner's proximal processes of development are

distinguished by several properties that call for experience. Activity must take place,

and it must then take place on a regular basis over time. This activity must become

increasingly more complex and there must be some degree of reciprocity. Finally, the

activity must invite attention, exploration, manipulation, elaboration, and imagination

to be a source of development.



Summary Statement of the Problem

School gardens have anecdotally been seen to promote the positive

developmental assets of achievement motivation, school engagement, responsibility,

and interpersonal competence (Anon., 1992; Becker, 1995; Berghorn, 1988; Braun,

1994; Canaris, 1995; Craig, 1997; Davies, 1995; Dwight, 1992; Gwynn, 1988; Neer,

1990; Pivnick, 1994). Additionally, educators and researchers have both cited the

experience of a school garden as enhancing environmental attitudes (Alexander et al.,

1995; Barker, 1992; Becker, 1995; Canaris, 1995; Chawla, 1994; Gwynn, 1988;

Heffeman, 1994; Pennington, 1988; Pivnick, 1994; Skelly, 1997; Stetson, 1991;

Waliczek, 1997; Wotowiec, 1975). While Harvey (1990) found that students using

school gardens or vegetative school grounds had higher scores of botanical

knowledge than students not using gardens or grounds, no research has addressed the

possibility of school gardens affecting students' attitudes toward science. Many

teachers use school gardens to enhance science lessons and so it is theorized that a

school garden may have an effect on students' attitudes toward science.








The theories of Piaget and Vygotsky provide a framework for understanding

how a school garden may have an impact on the cognitive development of students

who participate in garden projects. The population under investigation in this study is

third grade students who range in age from 9 to 11 years. Within the context of

Piaget's model, these students are within the concrete operational stage. This means

they are at a level where they are thinking logically through attainments of reversible

thinking, conservation, classification, seriation, negation, identity, and compensation.

Additionally, children are able to solve concrete or hands-on problems logically. The

school garden is a place where hands-on problem solving is a necessity. A survey of

Florida elementary teachers found that a majority (73 %) of teachers surveyed used

the garden for experiential learning (Skelly & Bradley, 2000). While the garden may

be a tool for experiential learning, students in this age group are not able to think

abstractly and therefore do not reach the abstract conceptualization stage of the

experiential learning cycle. However, through social interaction with their teacher

and peers, children may be brought to the zone of proximal development, which may

prepare them to start thinking abstractly.

While the garden is a place and a tool for learning, it is also a place for social

interaction with teachers, adults and fellow students. These interactions may,

according to Vygotsky's theory, be a form of intellectual scaffolding within a child's

zone of proximal development. The garden is a tool that, depending on how it is

used, can provide a teacher with the means to teach new information in a manner that

is fun for students, but that also engages students in a way that is exciting to them

through hands-on problem solving. Although the practices addressed in Table 1-2 are








guidelines for teaching math to 4- and 5- year olds, some of the guidelines can be

addressed through garden education. The garden can provide an active learning

environment where students can explore and interact with peers and adults.

Additionally, a garden can provide the setting for concrete learning activities that are

relevant to their lives. Education in a garden can also give students opportunities to

experiment, draw conclusions, and solve problems. While some of the processes of

growing a garden may be somewhat abstract or above the intellectual level of a third

grader, by observing these processes the student may be challenged. This challenge

can be remedied through interaction with their teacher, parents, and other students.

With the teacher or other influential persons helping the child to understand these

complex processes, the child must accommodate or assimilate the new information,

while at the same time they are being brought into the zone of proximal development

that will help them to eventually understand such processes.

Bronfenbrenner's ecological theory is helpful when assessing the context of

how a school garden may influence the development of positive assets. The

interactions within environmental settings can be influential enough to enhance or

discourage development. In light of these theoretical foundations, Bronfenbrenner's

ecological/bioecological model can be guides for actions and interactions (Ferarri

1998).

These models provide a framework for understanding how interactions

between individual's and their environment can enhance or discourage development.

At most elementary schools, students primarily stay in one classroom for the duration

of a school day, therefore the microsystem or context under investigation is the








classroom and what effects this context has on the individual students in this

classroom. The school garden is an educational method that is an extension of the

classroom, which provides the setting for the activities that drive the engines of

development. Depending on how the garden is used by both teacher and student it

may play a role in the developmental processes that take place in this contextual

setting. In this classroom system, there are several factors that may affect a child's

development; the interaction with the teacher, interaction among students in the same

class, and interactions within the garden both with animate and inanimate objects.

These interactions may have a significant impact on the development of the children

within this classroom.













CHAPTER 2
REVIEW OF LITERATURE


Benefits of Gardening

Gardening has been a way of life for thousands of years. The first gardens to

be cultivated were done so out of utilitarian need. Gardens for beauty were, in

ancient times, a luxury that was not often afforded (Hobhouse, 1997). The practice of

gardening, or horticulture, started with the domestication of wild grains. This new

cultivation of plants was to change the nomadic hunter/gatherer into the agriculturist

(Wright, 1934). In the millennia that have passed since the dawn of the first

agriculturists, gardening has become a way of life in today's society. While people

still garden for the purposes of growing food, many people now garden for aesthetic

purposes as well as for their own pleasure (Hobhouse, 1997). Charles Lewis, one of

the first people to document the positive effects of gardening and green spaces,

believes that gardening and plants can have a profound impact on people. He states,

Gardening is a process. Its products plants, flowers, lawns, shrubs are
easily seen, but what do we know of the process that produces them? The
process of gardening includes all the thoughts, actions, and responses from the
time the gardening activity is first contemplated, through the planting and
growth of the seed, to the mature plant. Personal feelings and benefits can be
seen as by-products, effects unintentionally produced by the process. (Lewis,
1996, pp. 56-57)

It is these by-products of gardening, the personal feelings and benefits, that make

gardening such a popular pastime.








According to a 1988 study conducted by the National Gardening Association,

70 million households engage in some form of gardening (Robbins, 1988). In a more

recent study, the National Gardening Association (1997) reports that 67 % of

Americans participate in garden activities. These numbers indicate that gardening is

practiced by many and that with so many people gardening, there must be benefits

derived from this practice. To assess some of these benefits, the National Gardening

Association surveyed approximately 2000 gardeners in 50 states. Ninety-six percent

of those surveyed agreed with the following statements:

one of the most satisfying aspects of gardening is the peace and tranquility it
brings; gardening gives me a sense of control over my environment; being
around plants makes me feel calmer and more relaxed; the natural world is
essential to my well being. (Butterfield & Relf, 1992, p. 212)

Obviously, gardening is a passion that many people enjoy and from which many

people derive benefits.

Research exploring the benefits of gardening has revealed that gardens

provide many benefits to gardeners (Kaplan, 1973; Patel, 1996; Waliczek, Zajicek, &

Matteson, 1996). In an article entitled "Some Psychological Benefits of Gardening,"

Rachel Kaplan (1973) discusses the reasons for and benefits received from gardening.

She begins by discussing several advantages in exploring gardening as an activity that

produces benefits associated with nature experiences. The first advantage she points

out is that "nature is clearly an essential component and not a background which

might be ignored by participants" (p. 145). She adds that nature "requires a

continuing contact and thus represents a commitment rather than a chance or causal

experience with the outdoor environment" (p. 146). Finally, Kaplan contends that

gardening "is a close-at-hand form of leisure activity. This tends both to decrease its








'image' value and to increase its potential role in an individual's psychological

economy by its very accessibility and frequency of contact" (p. 146).

Kaplan recognizes that gardening is an activity that is enjoyed by many and is

appealing for a large number of reasons. From this observation she asks "is there a

core, an essence to the gardening experience that touches all who participate?" (p.

146). Kaplan suggests that there are two distinct benefits derived from the gardening

experience. The first benefit is that gardening provides a source of fascination and

the second is that gardening gives people a chance to have control over the production

of their own food and thus are able to participate in their basic survival.

In order to explore whether anecdotal evidence of these perceived benefits

actually existed, Kaplan (1973) carried out a study to explore the patterns of

psychological benefits associated with the garden experience and whether there

existed variables (demographic and attitudinal) that predicted these benefits. She

surveyed a sample of community, home, and plot gardeners for this study. Analyses

of the survey data found three categories of psychological benefits. The first benefit

category pertained to variables that make up tangible benefits. Tangible benefits

included the enjoyment of producing one's own food, reducing food expenses, and

harvesting from the garden. The second category of benefits identified by the

researcher were the primary garden experiences people received from gardening.

Primary garden experiences included a desire to work in the soil, wanting to see

things grow, enjoyment of being outside, and interest in learning about gardening.

The third category of benefits revealed in the study were those that related to

sustained interest. Benefits measured by the Sustained Interest Scale (Kaplan, 1973)








were the "ability to sustain interest, valuable way to spend time, diversion from

routine, aesthetic pleasure from plants, opportunity to relax, and provide a sense of

accomplishment" (p. 153).

Kaplan reasoned that the high mean associated with the sustained interest

scale reflected the idea that gardening is indeed a powerful source of fascination.

Kaplan reasoned that a garden holds this sense of fascination because

it calls on the basic informational processes that humans do so well and
presumably care so deeply about. It not only permits, but actually invites
recognition, prediction, control, and evaluation. [Gardening] does this by
providing knowledge and requiring it. It is a setting that allows for order, but
that order is deeply embedded in uncertainty and change. Thus, it challenges
the human information-processing capability, and to the extent that the
challenge is met, both reward and more challenge are forthcoming. (Kaplan,
1973,p.160)

Kaplan also reasoned that gardening holds a sense of fascination because it is

a nature-based activity and this had been previously shown by Kaplan and Wendt

(1972) to be an activity of preference. Additionally, Kaplan contended that

fascination is natural in a garden because a garden is also a place were nature is

condensed and intensified in a miniature setting. Within this setting, natural

processes, actions, and cycles can be played out and observed. Viewing such

phenomena can only lead to fascination.

In a similar study, Patel (1996) surveyed the participants of a community

education program designed to teach community leadership, provide gardening and

clinic workshops, and to host several garden recognition programs to identify the

benefits of gardening. Patel's survey of participants found that the people who

partook in the garden education program reaped many benefits through gardening.

He reported that over one quarter of his sample of 300 community gardeners helped








others and shared their produce. Additionally, 44% of participants benefited from

receiving fresh vegetables; 35% reported an improvement in their diet; and 33% were

able to save money by gardening. The community gardeners in Patel's program also

reported that they developed friendships (31%) and felt that an improvement in their

neighborhood was made (13%).

In an attempt to determine if gardening improved the quality of life of

community gardeners, Waliczek, Zajicek, and Mattson (1996) surveyed 361

gardeners from 36 community gardens. These researchers found significant

differences among ethnic groups' reasons for gardening. "Working outside, working

with nature, and feeling healthier from eating produce" (p. 34) were rated as more

important by African-American and Hispanic gardeners as compared to Caucasian

and Asian gardeners. All ethnic groups reported that they felt it was important to

have a community garden to help promote community involvement. When exploring

the concept of self-esteem with community gardeners, researchers found that

statements assessing self-esteem and self-actualization were rated higher (more

important) among African-American and Hispanic gardeners than Caucasian and

Asian gardeners. Overall, the researchers of this study concluded that the community

gardens and participation in the gardens provided many quality-of-life benefits to the

gardeners.

While research exploring the benefits of gardening has focused mainly on

community gardeners and homeowners, research examining the benefits of gardening

on children has remained relatively unexamined. It may be logical to assume that

children may experience benefits similar to adults, however this assumption may be








inaccurate and proper research is necessary to determine the benefits children derive

from gardening. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine what benefits,

if any, children using school gardens were experiencing.


History of School Gardens

The use of school gardens in American can be traced back to the late 1800s.

However, long before school gardens made their way into American school systems,

European schools had embraced school gardens. Some historians even trace the

beginnings of school gardens as far back as 1015 BC when King Solomon had

extensive gardens that were thought to be used for the purposes of instruction

(Bachert, 1976). While this link may be weak, Bachert (1976) cites many references

that date school gardens back to 1525 AD. He presents an examination of significant

dates that marks the spread of school gardens. The earliest known school gardens

were linked to the botanical gardens of Italy and other universities in 1525 AD.

Several publications promoted the idea of schools gardens: Amos Comenius'

Didactica maintain that a garden should be connected with each school (1592-1672)

and J. J. Rosseau's Emile (publication) noting the importance of garden work as an

educational factor (1762). In 1840, Fredrick Froebel founded the first kindergarten, a

place where light gardening was thought to enhance play and education. After

Froebel's kindergarten idea, school gardens went on to be established in the larger

German cities. On March 14, 1869, Austrian imperial school law prescribed that a

garden or agricultural place be established at every rural school (Bachert 1976, p. 18).








With the widespread occurrence of school gardens throughout Europe,

America was beginning to take notice. Bachert argues that the transition of school

gardens into America most likely occurred through:

visits by Americans to Europe, visits by European educators to America,
influence of immigrants who had been exposed to school gardens in their own
education in Europe, translations and reprinting of books in America, and
articles printed in American magazines and journals about school gardens in
Europe. (Bachert, 1976, p. 20)

Henry Lincoln Clapp, who according to Bachert, is known as the "Father of school

gardening in America," provided the initial steps in bringing and starting school

gardens in America. Clapp was sent by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society

(MHS) to study the school gardens in Europe. Clapp's report on the school gardens

in Europe encouraged schools in America to follow suit and prompted the MHS to

begin working with schools to install window box gardens. The MHS's promotion of

window box gardens is argued to be the first development of school gardens in

America (Bachert, 1976).

Henry Lincoln Clapp's report stated that there were 81,000 school gardens in

Europe in 1890. Upon revealing this to a meeting of the Massachusetts Horticultural

Society in 1891, the school garden movement in American blossomed. Although the

MHS had started window box gardens at several schools, the first school garden in

America is thought to have been a garden that Clapp started at the Henry Putnam

School in Roxbury, Massachusetts. The garden at the Henry Putnam School was a

vegetable garden that allowed for the scientific study of plants. After this first school

garden was established, the movement in America was still slow going. Prior to 1900

only about four to five school gardens existed. However, by 1906 the movement had








caught on, and according to an estimate by the United States Department of

Agriculture, there were approximately 75,000 school gardens being maintained in

1906. By 1910 this number had risen to about 80,000 schools (Bachert, 1976).

Once the school garden movement had taken off, several organizations

formed to promote and encourage school gardens and to help teachers gain access to

school garden information and literature. Several of the organizations formed were

the School Garden Association of New York instituted by the American Museum of

Natural History and the International Children's School Farm League. In addition,

the Massachusetts Horticultural Society continued to play a significant role in

promoting school gardens by organizing the first Children's Garden Conference.

Other established organizations such as the Village Improvement Society of Groton,

Massachusetts, the Women's Institute of Yonkers, New York, the American Civic

Association, the American Park and Outdoor Art Association, the Civic League, and

the Twentieth Century Club also became involved in the school garden movement

(Bachert, 1976).

With the support of many organizations, school gardens began to grow

throughout America. In Illinois, the Farmer Boy's Experiment Club was started to

provide country boys with more practical training and education about the country

they lived in. The club's activities included reading of agricultural literature

produced by the Agriculture College of Extension, field trips to the Agricultural

College and Experiment Station, and experiments with seeds and plants on the

students' own field plots. The club was such a success that a Girl's Home Culture

Club was formed.








Another successful garden organization was the National Cash Register Boy's

Garden in Ohio. This garden was started by the president of the National Cash

Register Company in an effort to stimulate thought and activity in the young boys of

his employees. While this garden was not a true school garden, it was established

with many of the same instructional and developmental elements as school gardens

and served as a model for many school gardens. J. H. Patterson, the president of the

company, felt that his upbringing on a farm was one of the reasons he was successful

and wanted to share similar experiences with the boys of employees that worked for

him. Patterson believed that a garden would be "a place to foster the physical,

mental, and moral development of the boys of his employees and of the neighborhood

surrounding the factory" (Basset, 1979, p. 18).

In Bachert's (1976) analysis of the school garden movement in America from

1890-1910, he discusses how school gardens were used in conjunction the with

school curriculum. Henry Lincoln Clapp was the first to recognize the link of the

school garden with the curriculum being taught. He wrote: "To ignore the garden as

an educational means in elementary schools is as unwise as it is to leave it out of the

kindergartens." Clapp went on to add that "the absence of the school garden is the

most radical defect in our elementary education" (Clapp, 1901, p. 611 as cited by

Bachert, 1976, p. 86). The Report of the Commissioner of Education for the Year

1898-99 stated that "gardens are a necessary part of school and attain their

educational value by being connected with them" (Gang, 1900, p. 1080 as cited by

Bachert, 1976, p. 87). The American Park and Outdoor Art Association strongly

defended school gardens and the values that came from them. The association felt








that gardens were the answer to a better education for children and as a means to

solve many of the problems that existed in society (Bachert, 1976). School gardens

were also thought of as tools to teach many classroom subjects. In a book entitled

How to Make School Gardens: A Manual for Teachers and Pupils, by Hemenway

(1903 as cited by Bachert, 1976) wrote that school gardens could be used to teach

practically every subject taught in the classroom. Lessons on plant life, science

lessons, arithmetic, geography, art, nature study, reading, language, composition,

spelling, and physical education were all cited as subject areas that could be

addressed using and teaching with school gardens (Bachert, 1976).

The spread of school gardens throughout America was most predominant in

the major cities in the early 1900's, with the movement spreading as far as Honolulu,

Hawaii. DeMarco (1999) states that the use of school gardens has fluctuated since

the early 1900's due to the social and educational climate of the times. As teaching

and learning styles change, so does the acceptance or rejection of school gardens as

teaching tools. There has been little documentation of the school garden movement

since 1910, however the plethora of anecdotal articles written by educators on school

gardens is a testament that the movement is still alive today.


Benefits of School Gardens

In addition to the benefits cited by proponents of early school gardens, other

educators and researchers have recognized the benefits of school gardens to children.

Upon conclusion of his survey of the school garden movement from 1890 to 1910,

Bachert (1976) concluded that youth garden programs provided several benefits to

students. These benefits included physical improvement, sharpening of mental








faculties, social gains, value for special populations, economic value, and moral

growth.

Maria Montessori (1912) was one of the first educators to document the

benefits gardening could have on school children. Montessori recognized several

benefits of gardening with children. The first benefit she noticed was that children

began to care for living things and life. In having to care for living things plants -

so that they would stay alive, Montessori found that children were learning

responsibility. Another benefit recognized by Montessori was that children were

learning how to accomplish tasks independent of their teacher, and therefore they

were becoming more self-reliant. Waiting for plants to grow requires patience,

another virtue Montessori witnessed developing in her students. Montessori believed

allowing children to work outside in the garden gave them opportunities to

intelligently contemplate nature. Finally, Montessori noted that working in the

garden helped her students to work together and gain interpersonal skills.

Other educators have also testified to the benefits of school gardens. Based on

a review of literature, four categories of school garden benefits were identified. The

following is a categorization of the perceived benefits of school gardens discussed in

anecdotal articles: 1) moral development, 2) academic learning, 3) sense of

community, and 4) environmental awareness.


Moral Development

School gardens are a place to develop social skills such as sharing, teamwork,

and cooperation (Becker, 1995; Berghorn, 1988; Canaris, 1995; Gwynn, 1988; In

Virginia, 1992; Neer, 1990). Another virtue observed in children who use school








gardens is patience (Craig, 1997; Pivnick, 1994). Other developmental benefits

witnessed by educators are self-control, pride in a product and their garden (Becker,

1995; Braun, 1989; Craig, 1997; Dwight, 1992; Neer, 1990), increased self-esteem

(Craig, 1997), self-confidence (Chawla, 1994; Dwight, 1992), and a sense of self-

reliance and accomplishment (Henry & DeLauro, 1996). Teachers also recognized

that their students were developing the skills of leadership, organization, planning

(Berghomrn, 1988), responsibility (Canaris, 1995; Gwynn, 1988), and discipline for

being on time, following directions, and making decisions (Dwight, 1992). Several

teachers observed their students developing a work ethic: a widened understanding of

work that work can be personally meaningful (Canaris, 1995), that work is useful

and appreciated (Braun, 1989; Dwight, 1992), and a respect of work (Becker, 1995).

Finally, positive feelings toward school and a desire to participate in school activities

was noticed in students who were part of a school garden program (Lucas, 1995;

Stetson, 1991).


Academic Learning

One of the first benefits teachers point out about school gardens is how they

make learning fun (Stetson, 1991), exciting (Gwynn, 1988), and promote an

enthusiastic response from students (Canaris, 1995). Educators also point out that

school gardens aid in problem solving, observation, and predicting skills (Nelson,

1988; Stetson, 1991). School gardens also help students gain better understandings of

social studies, math, science (Stetson, 1991), the process of getting food from the

field to the table (Braun, 1989; Canaris, 1995), life cycles, habitats, weather, plants

(Gwynn, 1988; Oehring, 1993), nutrition (Canaris, 1995), and abstract concepts








(Kutsunai, 1994). Braun (1989) contends that the garden helps students to apply what

they learn in one subject to concepts they have learned in other subjects. The

educational benefits of school gardens are reported to be the result of hands-on

learning and experiences (Barron, 1993; Craig, 1997 In Virginia, 1992) as well as the

real world and direct experiences (Kutsunai, 1994). Teachers also report that the

teaching and learning in the garden leads to higher science scores (Stetson, 1991) and

improved academic achievement (Braun, 1989).


Sense of Community

According to many teachers, the garden is an entity that promotes a sense of

community both in terms of students contributing to and feeling a part of the

community. Sharing the garden with others (Neer, 1990) and donating grown

produce to food banks (Canaris, 1995) are two cited examples of how students feel

they contribute to the community. Bringing in senior citizens to help with the garden

also fosters a sense of community connectedness (Barron, 1993; Canaris, 1995).

Allowing students and seniors to work together is seen to cultivate a connection

between the young and old (Braun, 1989; Dwight, 1992). A sense of community is

also developed through parental involvement (Kutsunai, 1994) and interaction and

commonality with other students (Dwight, 1992; In Virginia, 1992).


Environmental Awareness

According to Pennington (1988, p. 1), "gardening is a transforming activity

that moves us from ignorance to understanding and appreciation, from passivity to

action, from a state of dependence to one of independence with nature and others in








our community." Many educators recognize the potential of a school garden to

accomplish this claim. Several teachers credit the school garden as helping students

to recognize the importance of nature and to gain an appreciation of nature (Gwynn,

1988). Gardens are reported to help students connect and bond to nature (Chawla,

1994; Pivnick, 1994), as well as help students discover the wonders of nature

(Becker, 1995). These connections to nature are important and necessary if children

are to develop an environmental ethic (Pivnick, 1994). Teachers point out that school

gardens help students develop respect for living things (Stetson, 1991), gain

environmental sensitivity and empathy (Chawla, 1994), as well as teach children to

nurture and care for living things (Canaris, 1995). Heffemrnan (1994, p. 223) states

that "gardens are the most accessible places for children to learn about nature's
0
beauty, interconnections, power, fragility, and solace" and that "gardening shows

children they can bring beauty into the world with their own actions."

These anecdotal citations provide insight into how school gardens may affect

the students that use them. While these benefits are observations of individual

teachers, there is merit to their recognition that school gardens benefit their students.

These observations help researchers shape their research questions and develop a

strategy for carrying out empirical studies of school garden benefits.


School Garden Research

Research in the area of school gardens is limited even though school gardens

have been in existence for hundreds of years. As is evident from the anecdotal

descriptions of school garden benefits, there is agreement among teachers using

school gardens that they are beneficial to the students. For the purposes of this study,








teachers and students were the subjects of research. Therefore, this section will

outline the existing research conducted with both teachers and students using school

gardens.


Research with Teachers Using School Gardens

DeMarco (1999) carried out a study to determine the factors that aid in the

development and successful implementation of elementary school gardens. Her study

included a survey of 236 teachers who used school gardens and personal interviews

with 28 teachers who were experienced using school gardens. All teachers surveyed

or interviewed were selected from a sample of schools that had received a Youth

Garden Grant from the National Gardening Association in 1994/1995 and 1995/1996.

Analyses of the survey and interview data showed that there are several

factors important to the success of school gardening programs. A sense of ownership

of the garden by teachers and students was one of the most important factors

identified. DeMarco explained that for the school garden to be used and accepted by

teachers and students, all involved in the garden must feel ownership in order for

them to take responsibility for the garden. Additionally, students must feel ownership

of the learning that occurs in the garden and such learning should be spread

throughout the curriculum.

The final part of DeMarco's (1999) study was to assess how teachers'

perceptions of the effectiveness of school gardens as a teaching tool. Almost all of

the teachers in the study (96%) felt that school gardening was an effective teaching

strategy that enhanced the learning of their students. This same percentage of

teachers also felt that the school garden helped students learn and understand new








ideas and concepts. Additionally, all of the teachers surveyed and interviewed

indicated that students' environmental attitudes became more positive after using the

school garden.

In a similar study, Skelly and Bradley (2000) conducted a survey of Florida

elementary school teachers using school gardens to find out their perceptions of the

importance of school gardens. Seventy-one teachers from 35 schools participated in

the survey. The most popular types of gardens used by the teachers were flower

(84%) and vegetable gardens (71%), with butterfly (41%) and herb (39%) gardens

following. In most cases, teachers were using a combination of all types of gardens.

Follow-up interviews with several teachers revealed that vegetable and butterfly

gardens were used primarily for science lessons, while flower gardens were used to

beautify school grounds.

When asked why they used school gardens, all but two of the teachers (97%)

remarked that the garden was used for environmental education, and a majority of the

teachers (73%) noted that they used the garden for experiential learning. Eighty-four

percent of the teachers felt that the garden helped their students learn better.

Findings from these two studies showed that teachers are using school gardens

and believe that school gardens enhanced the learning of their students. It is apparent

that teachers in these studies understood the usefulness and the potential benefits of

school gardens in the classroom and to their students.


Research with Students using School Gardens

Research focusing on students who use school gardens and subsequent

benefits is limited. To date, only eight known documented research studies have








focused on the benefits students receive by participating in school garden programs.

This section will review these eight research studies and how they relate to the current

study. The research studies have been divided into those conducted through

interview research and those conducted using survey research.


Interview research

Barker (1992) carried out a naturalistic inquiry study of the Hilltop

Garden/Nature Center in Bloomington, Indiana to find out the meaning of the garden

to participants. Barker conducted observations at the Center and interviewed 10

participants to gain an understanding of how participants viewed the educational,

leisure, and social aspects of the program. The researcher observed participants for

25 of the 33 days the Center was open. She then conducted interviews with 9

participants 4 garden participants and 5 junior board members. Junior board

members were different from garden participants in that members were selected by

Center staff to be a board member based on students' previous experience with youth

gardening, their ability to learn and apply skills, and their leadership potential. The

junior board members interviewed were all older (ages 11 to 16) than the garden

participants (ages 7 to 9) who were interviewed.

After analyses of her observations and interviews, Barker noted several

benefits of the garden program to participants. The first benefit Barker discussed was

that participants really liked and enjoyed the youth gardening program. She

described the participants as "happy, active, and involved" (p. 164). Second, she

found from her interviews that the participants found the program fun. Further

explanation of this finding led Barker to conclude that the garden participants found








the program to be fun because it allowed them to do things and have interesting

experiences. Second to this reason, the garden participants thought the social aspects

of the garden to be important. These reasons were reversed for the junior board

members.

Another finding Barker (1992) made was that the participants learned about

nature and gardening. They learned specific knowledge and skills such as, how to

garden, how to use and care for tools, how to create and follow a garden plan, how to

harvest, and how to identify garden pests and weeds. Students also learned

nutritional information about the vegetables they grew, and older students learned to

identify the plants and flowers they were growing. Barker also found that the garden

program gave participants a sense of pride. They gained this pride by showing off

their garden plots, prize-winning vegetables, and garden craft projects. Participants in

the program also reported that the garden gave them a sense of ownership and

belonging. In relation to this finding, Barker observed that the youth garden program

made the participants feel valued. Cooperation was another benefit Barker observed

in the garden. Students worked together and shared their produce. For the older

junior board members, Barker's observations and interviews also revealed that

development of leadership skills was taking place. The one aspect all youth

gardeners disliked about the gardening program was weeding.

Alexander et al. (1995) carried out a similar qualitative study to explore the

benefits of classroom gardens to students. The researchers interviewed 52 students in

the second and third grades, 5 teachers, 3 parents, and 1 principal from an elementary

school in Texas. From these interviews the researchers found that six themes








emerged from the interview data: "moral development, academic learning,

parent/child/community interaction, pleasant experiences, the influence of the Master

Gardener, and perceived problems" (p. 258).

Interview data indicated that the garden gave students many opportunities to

learn about life. These life lessons were described to be "delayed gratification,

independence, cooperation, self-esteem, enthusiasm/anticipation, nurturing living

things, motivation, pride in their activities, and exposure to role models from different

walks of life" (p. 259). The academic learning theme centered on findings that school

gardens allowed classroom lessons to be put into context that students could

understand. Additionally, interviews showed that the garden was a place where

hands-on learning, specifically about nature, could be experienced.

One of the other themes present from this study was parent/child/community

interaction. Teacher interviews revealed that parents enthusiastically supported

school gardens and were encouraged by their children to start gardens at home.

Teachers also stated that parents became more involved in school matters and the

experiences of their children at school. Teachers also commented that they believed

the garden gave their students a sense of being a part of their community, as the

students and their families had to care for the gardens on weekends.

Alexander et al. also found that school gardens provided a place students and

teachers could have pleasant experiences. Many of these pleasant experiences came

from tangible outcomes: starting with soil and seeds and harvesting edible vegetables,

being independent of mom and dad for food, having fun in the garden, getting hands

dirty, and watching things grow.








Another theme present from the interviews was the role and influence of the

Master Gardener. Master Gardeners are individuals who have engaged in continuing

education courses to learn more about horticulture and gardening experience. Master

Gardeners are required to pass an exam and put in volunteer hours before the title of

Master Gardener is conferred on an individual. Interviewed teachers found the

Master Gardeners to be extremely helpful when gardening with students. The Master

Gardeners helped create a better ratio of adults to students, provided knowledge of

gardening to teachers who were novice gardeners, and helped provide a sense of

community for the teachers and students (Alexander et al., 1995).

When asked about problems with the garden program, the researchers

received mostly positive comments. Some of the problems mentioned by teachers

and students were that they did not have enough time to garden with students, that not

all of the students in the school were able to participate, and that destruction of the

garden occurred due to maintenance personnel or vandalism. Overall the researchers

concluded that the classroom garden program was beneficial to all involved and that

many positive benefits were derived from the experience.


Survey research

In a study examining the track gardening program of Cleveland Public

Schools, Wotowiec (1975) found that the gardening program accomplished many of

the objectives set forth by the program. Analyses of a survey administered to 404

students (3rd through 6th graders and junior and senior high school students) and their

parents indicated that the objectives of developing character, promoting physical

health, teaching conservation, providing practical skills, developing work habits,








providing for career exploration, and providing fresh vegetables were met.

Additional analyses of the survey results, however, showed that students and parents

did not believe the garden program promoted practical application of academic skills

and knowledge.

School garden studies are not confined to the United States. In a study of

school farms in Japan, Konoshima (1995) reported that participation in agricultural

activities produced a wide variety of educational benefits, especially in primary

school students. To identify the benefits to students, Konoshima distributed

questionnaires to students. Examination of the survey data showed that working on

the school farms helped students recognize the importance of nature. Additionally,

students developed a better understanding of work and their self-control was

enhanced. Of the students surveyed, 80% of the junior high students reported they

had fun in the garden. Fifty percent of third graders and 70% of first graders wished

to have the same farming experience in their next grade level. Questionnaires

distributed to parents indicated that most parents (91%) supported the school farm

projects, as these projects stimulated in their children a willingness to work on their

family farms and sparked interest in farming that before participating in the projects

had been dormant.

Sheffield (1992) conducted a study to find out the cognitive and affective

benefits of an interdisciplinary garden-based curriculum on underachieving fourth

and fifth-grade students. The underachieving students for both the control and

experimental group were students who were behind one or more grade levels in

reading and math, were identified by their teachers as having difficulties in school,








and had been held back at least once. The control group consisted of 12 students

while the experimental group consisted of 9 students. The experimental group for

this study received instruction daily for four hours via an interdisciplinary garden

curriculum developed by the National Gardening Association. Garden lessons were

incorporated into reading, writing, arithmetic, history, social studies, art, music,

health, physical education, and creative thinking exercises.

Sheffield's analyses showed that the experimental group performed

significantly better in the areas of reading comprehension, total reading, spelling, and

written language. There were no significant differences found between the control

and experimental group in the areas of mathematics, reading recognition, and general

information.

No significant differences in self-esteem between the control and

experimental group were found. However, when the individual areas were combined

and weighted to give a total score, analysis showed that the experimental group

scored significantly higher than the control group. This finding led the researcher to

conclude that the interdisciplinary garden-based curriculum had a positive impact on

students' self-esteem.

No significant difference among the control and experimental groups'

attitudes toward school were found. Sheffield added that while the difference in

attitude scores was not significant, the experimental group did score higher and there

was evidence, witnessed by teachers, which may have indicated a more positive

attitude toward school.








In a similar study, Waliczek (1997) looked at how school gardens affected

students' self-esteem, interpersonal relationships, attitude toward school, and

environmental attitudes. To conduct this study, Waliczek enlisted the participation of

eight schools and 550 students from Texas and Kansas. Schools participating in the

study received garden materials and used Project GREEN (Waliczek & Zajicek,

1996) a garden-based curriculum incorporating math and science lessons into

garden activities.

Waliczek's findings showed that there were no significant differences among

the control and experimental groups on psychological measures. Students in the

control and experimental groups had similar attitudes toward school, interpersonal

relationships, and self-esteem. Analyses also showed that there was no difference

between the pretest and posttest scores for students 8 to 11 years old. There were,

however, significant differences in pre- and posttest scores of adolescent (12- to 18-

year-old) students. In this case, adolescents' posttest scores were significantly more

negative than pretest scores. This finding was attributed to students not wanting to

get dirty and students not being academically challenged by the garden activities.

Waliczek examined the data to see if there were any differences related to the

demographic variables of gender, ethnicity, age group and grade levels, school, place

of residence, and previous garden experience. Of these variables only gender and age

group showed significant differences. Females were found to have more positive

attitudes toward schools than males.

When investigating the effect of school gardens and Project GREEN on

students' environmental attitudes, Waliczek found no significant differences between








pre- and posttest scores. Additionally, analyses were run to determine if there were

any differences in environmental attitude scores based on age, ethnicity, and gender.

Of these variables, ethnicity and gender showed statistically significant differences.

Females scored higher on the posttest than males and while all ethnic groups had

positive environmental attitudes, Caucasian students had significantly higher scores

than African-American and Hispanic students.

In another study using the Project GREEN (Skelly & Zajicek, 1997) format,

Skelly (1997) examined the effects of an interdisciplinary garden-based curriculum

on the environmental attitudes of participating students. Four elementary schools in

Texas agreed to participate in the study. This study followed a control/experimental

group design with second and fourth grade students. The experimental group

consisted of 102 second grade students and 52 fourth grade students. The control

group was composed of 33 second grade students and 51 fourth grade students.

Analysis of data showed that students in the experimental group had

significantly more positive environmental attitudes than students in the control group.

Further analysis of the data indicated that when examining individual schools, the

experimental group at each school scored significantly higher than the control group.

This finding indicated that students participating in the garden program had more

positive environmental attitudes than students who did not use the garden program.

Results also showed that second grade students (8- to 9-year-olds) had more positive

environmental attitudes than fourth grade students (10- to 11 -year-olds). No

significant differences were found between environmental attitude scores and the

demographic variables of gender, ethnicity, and place of residence. Further analysis








showed that the number of outdoor-related experiences a student had positively

correlated to their environmental attitude score.

One of the most recent studies of children and school gardens was made by

Lineberger and Zajicek (2000) to assess if using a school garden and nutritional-

garden based curriculum affected students' attitudes and behaviors regarding fruits

and vegetables. The researchers enrolled five elementary schools in Texas to

participate in the study. The sample was composed of 111 third- and fifth-grade

students. A pretest/posttest experimental design was used.

Findings showed that students' attitudes toward vegetables became

significantly more positive after gardening. In contrast, no differences were found in

students' attitudes toward fruit. Analysis of students' attitudes toward fruit and

vegetable snacks found that after gardening, students' attitudes toward snacks were

more positive. Further analysis showed that female and younger students (third

grade) had the greatest improvement in snack attitude scores. Although students'

attitudes toward vegetables improved, students' fruit and vegetable consumption did

not improve significantly.

In summary, many of the anecdotal benefits cited by educators have been

legitimatized through qualitative and quantitative research studies. Inspection of

these anecdotes made by educators and findings of the research studies indicates that

school gardens can be beneficial to students who participate in them. While research

has explored the variables of self-esteem, interpersonal relationships, and attitudes

toward schools none have explored how school gardens may impact the positive

development of children. Additionally, very few of these studies have explored the








benefits of school gardens to students within a theoretical framework based on

developmental and educational theories. The focus of this research was to design a

study of school gardens that would allow for the context of a school garden to be

placed within current theories of child development and to determine how such a

context might ultimately affect the child. To determine the effects a school garden

might have on students' development, several dependent variables were identified.

These variables included youth developmental assets, student attitudes toward

science, and student attitudes toward the environment. Literature addressing these

variables is discussed in the following sections.


Youth Developmental Assets

The Search Institute, an independent, nonprofit organization committed to

advancing the well being of children and adolescents, developed the model of

developmental assets through extensive research and consultations with education,

child development, and community experts. The Institute's framework of assets is

the product of research involving more than 500,000 6th 12th grade students in over

600 communities throughout the country (Scales & Leffert, 1997). In the past,

policies and programs for youth have primarily focused on preventive measures.

Studies, however, are finding that these preventive policies and programs are not

working. In response to these studies, the Search Institute developed the asset

framework to help adults identify the assets that can promote positive youth

development.

The asset framework is composed of 40 developmental assets which pertain to

all aspects of a young person's life, including family, school, and community








influences. Search Institute views these assets as "a comprehensive vision of what

young people need in the first two decades of life to become healthy, caring,

responsible, and contributing members of our society" (Benson, Roehlkepartain, &

Leffert, 1997, p. 15). Search Institute contends that asset development is a

continuous process that children proceed through and is an interaction of both nature

and nurture aspects of development. Natural development is the development of

children due to their genetic makeup. Development by means of nurturing is due to

children's upbringing and life experiences. At the very early stages of development,

(birth 2 years), external assets are a necessity as they lay the foundation for building

the internal assets. It is argued that the more developmental assets a child is in

possession of, the more healthy, caring, responsible, and contributing member of

society he or she will be (Benson et al., 1997).

The asset framework is divided into two dimensions, external assets and

internal assets. External assets are:

factors that surround young people with the support, empowerment,
boundaries, expectations, and opportunities that guide them to behave in
healthy ways and to make wise choices. These assets are provided by many
people and social contexts, including families, schools, neighbors, religious
congregations, and organizations. (Benson et al. 1997, p. 16)

Internal assets are:

the commitments, values, competencies, and self-perceptions that must be
nurtured within young people to provide them with internal compasses to
guide their behaviors and choices. The four internal-asset categories are
commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies, and positive
identity. (Benson et al., 1997, p. 16)

For the purposes of this study, internal assets were the focus, concentrating on assets

from 3 of the 4 categories: positive values, social competencies, and commitment to








learning. These 3 categories were selected for study because they included assets that

were cited in anecdotal claims by teachers and in research studies examining school

gardens. Positive values are "important internal compasses to guide children's

priorities and choices." Social competencies are assets that develop the "personal and

interpersonal skills children need to negotiate through the maze of choices, options,

and relationships they face." A commitment to learning is defined as a "development

of intellectual curiosity and skills to gain new knowledge" (Benson et. al. 1997, p.

18). From these three categories, four specific assets; responsibility, interpersonal

competence, achievement motivation, and school engagement were focused on and

whether children using and participating in a school garden gain these assets. These

assets were chosen because they represented the type of benefits found by educators

and school garden researchers to be evident in students after participating in school

garden programs.


Positive Values

Values are defined as "internal compasses that guide people in developing

priorities and making choices" (Benson et al., 1997, p. 65). The positive value

component of the asset framework focuses on both values that affect others as well as

values that develop personal character. The development of personal character is a

process that does not occur over night. Children begin developing character during

infancy and continue through childhood. The intentional nurturing of these character

skills is necessary if children are to develop positive values such as caring, equality

and social justice, integrity, honesty, responsibility, and restraint (Benson et al.,

1997). For the purposes of this study, responsibility was the asset focused on.









Responsibility. Responsibility is an asset that children develop when they

learn to accept and take personal accountability (Benson et al., 1997). Webster's

defines responsibility as "the quality or state of being able to answer for one's

conduct and obligations" (Mish, 1996, p. 998).


Social Competencies

Social competencies are skills that help children cope with problems they may

encounter as they experience situations they are unfamiliar with or pose some threat

to their well being. Building and developing social competencies enables children to

"deal with the many choices, challenges, and opportunities they face in life" (Benson

et al., 1997, p. 71). Assets dealing with social competencies include planning and

decision-making, interpersonal competence, cultural competence, resistance skills,

and peaceful conflict resolution. The asset of interpersonal competence was examined

in this study.


Interpersonal competence. Interpersonal competence refers to a child's

ability to interact with adults and peers as well as to make friends. Children with

interpersonal competence are also thought to be able to empathize, have sensitivity,

and are able to articulate their feelings to others (Benson et al., 1997; Scales &

Leffert, 1999).

Commitment to Learning

Learning is a lifelong process that neither begins nor ends with formal

schooling. Curiosity is natural to children and as they grow up, this curious nature

can either be enhanced or may wane. A commitment to learning is an asset that will








instill in children a desire to learn not only academics, but other skills that may hold

some extracurricular interest to them. A commitment to learning is a skill that

engages children's curiosity and encourages learning throughout childhood and on

into adulthood. Assets that make up the commitment to learning category are

achievement motivation, school engagement, homework, bonding to school, and

reading for pleasure (Benson et al., 1997). Each of these assets works to encourage

learning, however, for the purposes of this study the assets of achievement motivation

and school engagement were studied.


Achievement motivation. Achievement motivation is a young person's

motivation to do well in school. Students' motivation to achieve is necessary for

them to have vocational success. Achievement motivation in children is usually

related to their sense of pride in their ability and sense of fulfillment (Benson et al.,

1997).


School engagement. The other commitment to learning asset is school

engagement. Scales and Leffert (1999, p. 122) define school engagement as the

"feeling of connectedness to school." Theoretically, if students feel like they are part

of the school and have a vested interest in the school, their commitment to learning

will increase as will their performance in school.

These four assets responsibility, interpersonal competence, achievement

motivation, and school engagement were chosen as dependent variables for this

study because of their mention in anecdotal articles, research findings, and interviews

with teachers. When assessing positive youth development in terms of assets, it is not








whether students have a higher level of responsibility per se than others, it is whether

a student is in possession of that asset entirely. Search Institute contends that the

more developmental assets a child is in possession of, the more healthy, caring,

responsible, and contributing member of society he or she will be (Benson et al.,

1997). Therefore, this study examined whether students participating in school

garden programs had possession of any of these four assets.


Student Attitudes Toward Science

While research studies have explored students' attitudes toward school, and

several educators have remarked at how well the garden lends itself to teaching

science and improving science skills and knowledge (Gwynn, 1988; Nelson, 1988;

Oehring, 1993; Stetson, 1991), no study to date has examined the effects of a school

garden experience on students' attitudes toward science. Having positive attitudes

toward science has been shown to increase a students' interest in science and led them

to take more science courses (Farenga & Joyce, 1998; Simpson & Oliver, 1990).

Students' attitudes toward science are usually high in elementary school, but tend to

become more negative as they progress to higher grades (Ayers & Price, 1975; Yager

& Penick, 1989). Stimulating interest in science at an early age may increase

students' interest in science as they continue through school. Theoretically, a school

garden may be a place that interest in science is stimulated. The following section

summarizes the current research on students' attitudes toward science and how these

attitudes may be influenced.

The three major goals of science instruction as stated by Ayers and Price

(1975, p. 311) are "a development of scientific literacy, a positive attitude toward








science, and the development of an understanding of and ability to use the scientific

method." They add that in order for a person to develop scientific literacy and to

understand and use the scientific method, they must first have a positive attitude

toward science. To change students' attitudes toward science, an understanding of

how students view science in necessary.

In a study of science related experiences, Farenga and Joyce (1997) found that

young boys had a significantly higher number of science related experiences than

girls. They suggested that the high number of experiences boys had provided them

with "an a priori sense of comfort, curiosity and competence in science or 'science

sensibility'... not enjoyed by most young girls" (Farenga & Joyce, 1997, p. 565).

The researchers added that out-of-school science experiences are becoming

recognized as an important building block for the foundation of science interest and

achievement. Since girls usually have less science-related experiences than boys, this

may account for the under representation of girls in science (Farenga & Joyce, 1997;

Fox, 1976; Kahle & Lakes, 1983; Kahle, Parker, Rennie, & Riley,1993).

Farenga and Joyce (1998) also conducted a study of high-ability boys and

girls ages 9 -13 and found that attitudes toward science are more predictive of science

course selection for girls than for boys. Their findings suggest that females with

more positive attitudes toward science are more likely to have a greater interest in

science classes. This study also showed that girls' poor attitudes toward science are a

factor in the low number of science courses they take and this subsequently limits

their aspirations in science-related careers. Farenga and Joyce contended that when

these findings are examined in light of research that finds sex-role stereotyped career








interests are in place by the second grade (Silverman, 1986), efforts need to be taken

to improve girls' interest in and attitudes toward science. The researchers

recommended that parents engage their children in activities that help them recognize

the importance and relevance of science in their everyday lives. Additionally, they

suggested that informal science activities may help provide prior experiences that can

help foster an interest and a positive attitude toward science for girls and boys alike.

Farenga and Joyce also suggested that educators should make science more appealing

through hands-on, inquiry based activities.

Recent research concerning the gender differences in science achievement

have suggested that these differences begin to emerge in middle school and are

usually set by the time students reach their senior year of high school (American

Association of University Women [AAUW], 1992; Linn & Hyde, 1989; Oakes,

1990). Additionally, these studies have also found that female high school students

enroll in fewer advanced science courses, have lower test scores and choose fewer

science-related careers than their male counterparts (AAUW, 1992, Oakes, 1990). In

response to these studies, Catsambis (1995) examined gender differences in science

attitudes and achievement among a national sample of eighth-grade students. Results

from this study indicated that females from this sample did not have lower science

achievement tests scores, grades, and class enrollment than their male classmates.

However, this study did find that female students had less positive attitudes toward

science, tended to participate in fewer science-related extracurricular activities, and

were less interested in science-related careers than the males in their grade.








In addition to examination of gender differences among attitude, achievement

and aspirations toward science and related careers, Catsambis (1995) explored

differences among ethnic groups. The study found that minority students have very

positive attitudes toward science despite their low test scores. This disparity among

attitudes and scores is thought to be the result of external environmental factors such

as family, community, and school being more important to achievement than are

attitudes. The limited number of females and minorities in science-related fields may

be due, in part, to poor attitudes toward science and poor performance in science.

Females' poor attitudes toward science were thought to be related to gender-role

perceptions and a belief that the science field is male dominated (Handley & Morse,

1984). Additionally, Farenga and Joyce (1998, p. 250) state that "young high-ability

girls perceive the role of a scientist [as] not conform[ing] to their social sphere of

possible options."

In conclusion, Catsambis suggested that efforts to improve students'

achievement and attitudes toward science should begin in the elementary school

years. These efforts should also be focused on gender and ethnic groups such that

steps are taken to improve females' attitudes toward science, interest in related

careers and to improve the achievement scores of minority students so that they each

have an equal opportunity for science-related careers.

In another study exploring science attitudes, Simpson and Oliver (1990)

carried out a comprehensive 10-year longitudinal study with students in the 6th, 7th,

8th, 9th, and 10th grades to determine the major influences on attitude toward and

achievement in science. Three major categories of independent variables were








identified and addressed in the study. These variables were related to home, school,

and individual characteristics. This 10-year study yielded many important findings

about attitudes and achievement in science. With this population of students, science

attitudes decreased each year. Attitudes also decreased as students progressed from

the beginning of the school year to the middle of the school year. This decline in

science attitudes also occurred across the grades from sixth through tenth and became

neutral in grade ten. Attitudes toward science were consistently higher among males.

In terms of achievement motivation in science, the results were similar to those for

attitudes, with a decline within each year and across the grades, and by grade ten

becoming neutral. Females had consistently higher achievement motivation scores in

science.

Simpson and Oliver (1980) also found a strong positive correlation between

students' attitudes toward science and their friends' attitudes toward science. This

relationship was most pronounced in the ninth grade. The researchers suggested that

this phenomenon was most likely due to the importance of friendships for adolescent

students, and thus students were more likely to be influenced by their peer groups.

School, in particular the classroom, was found to have the strongest influence on

attitudes toward science. Individual and home factors also contributed significantly

to students' attitudes, but it was the classroom setting and curriculum that most

strongly accounted for students' decisions to embark on future science courses. In

contrast, students' self-related variables science self-concept, achievement

motivation, and science anxiety were the strongest predictors of a students'

achievement in science. Further exploration found that attitudes toward science play








a critical role in determining the amount of science a student experiences in future

endeavors.

Simpson and Oliver (1990) also stated that if students enter middle school

with positive attitudes toward science and have positive initial experiences with

science, they are more likely to continue taking and being successful in additional

science courses. They warned that if students receive little support from home, are

not exposed to science in elementary school, and do not have positive initial

experiences in middle school science courses, they are unlikely to continue taking

science courses. These students will then, in most cases, end high school with little

knowledge of and commitment to science.

Yager and Yager (1985) carried out a study to determine the perceptions of

science held by third-, seventh-, and eleventh-grade students. They found that one

third of elementary school students perceived that their teachers really like science,

compared to the 75% of secondary school students having the same perception. In

the third grade, students indicated that their teachers make science exciting. This was

also true for secondary school students but at decreasing levels. Sixty percent of third

graders perceived that their teachers know much about science, 65% of seventh

graders, and 80% of eleventh graders perceived the same. Close to half (40%) of

third grade science teachers were perceived as willing to admit they do not know the

answers to science questions. This figure drops around 20% for seventh and eleventh

grades, respectively.

This study also explored the perception of science classes as fun, exciting, and

interesting. More than half of the third graders reported their science classes as being








exciting, fun, and interesting. This figure dropped to less than 50% for the upper

grade levels. Similarly, few third graders found their science class to be boring. In

contrast, over one-fourth of seventh graders and one-third of eleventh graders found

science classes to be boring.

Studies have also explored how exemplary science programs impact students'

attitudes toward science. Exemplary programs are those that are recognized by the

National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Search for Excellence in Science

Education program. Exemplary programs as identified by the NSTA are those

programs that are

locally and personally relevant, they focus on applications and technology,
and they give experience with the formulation of insightful, long-term
resolutions of our time. Furthermore, they illustrate science as an ongoing and
human enterprise and they provide students with direct experiences with
ideas, materials, use of information, and making decisions. They focus on
personal, societal, and career goals. Finally, they begin at the level of impact
of science on the community rather than ending at this level. (Yager & Penick,
1989, pp. 55-56)

Studies with students in exemplary science programs found that students in such

programs have more positive attitudes toward science than do students in regular

programs. These studies have also found that in contrast to other students, exemplary

science students' attitudes do not worsen over time (Yager, 1988; Yager & Penick,

1989).

One such study of exemplary science programs carried out by Yager and

Penick (1989) showed that students in exemplary programs perceived science as

being fun, exciting, and interesting. Students in these programs also perceived

science as being less boring. Exemplary program students, in comparison to regular

science students, felt that they were more comfortable in their science classes,








believed that their teachers liked for them to ask questions and share ideas, and

viewed their teachers as being able to make science exciting. This study also found

that exemplary program students had a more realistic view of science than did regular

program students and that their science classes prepared them to make choices.

A study conducted by Basham (1994) looked at how the use of an

interdisciplinary environmental unit, which included lessons on pollution, rainforest

devastation, recycling, and Earth appreciation for fourth-grade students, affected their

attitudes toward science and learning. Students participated in activities that allowed

them to be active participants in solving problems related to the environmental

lessons. Basham found that after participating in the two-week interdisciplinary

program about the environment, fourth-grade students had more positive attitudes

toward science after the program than before the program.

Yager and McCormack (1989, p. 49) found that "students report that typical

[science] courses lessen curiosity, excitement, ability to create explanations, ability to

reason and to make critical decisions based on evidence." Science classes that limit

students' creativity are usually found to limit many of the qualities that are inherently

scientific. Yager and McCormack stated that if science attitudes are positive and

students have opportunities to be creative, students' understanding and knowledge of

science will be enhanced. Furthermore, they stated that most traditional science

programs do not allow for creativity and even discourage creativity. Traditional

science programs usually focus on teaching students information acquisition instead

of on instructional techniques that foster creative thought and positive attitudes.

Yager and McCormack also found that many science teachers believe that basic








science information and process skills provide enough knowledge for students

needing science and that positive attitudes are not that important.

In response to the way science classes are usually taught, Yager and

McCormack (1989) developed a model that explains the logical way that science

should be taught. They contend that science teaching should begin with the

applications and connection to the real world. This understanding of how science is

relevant to the real world and to everyday life will lead students to see the need to

study the processes and information pertaining to science. To teach students the facts

and processes first is to make them differentiate between "real world science (based

on personal experiences) and school science (based on the information included in

textbooks and course outlines)" (Yager & McCormack, 1989, p. 50). Ideally,

students need to be taught all aspects of science (applications, facts, and processes), in

traditional science courses this rarely occurs.

In summary, instilling positive attitudes toward science in children must start

at an early age (Catsambis, 1995; Farenga & Joyce, 1998; Simpson & Oliver, 1990;

Yager & McCormack, 1985; Yager & Yager, 1989). These researchers have also

found that for students to continue to have an interest in science and to explore the

possibility of science-related careers, positive science attitudes must be stimulated in

elementary school. Suggestions for stimulating interest and promoting positive

attitudes include providing out of school science experiences (Farenga & Joyce,

1997), informal science activities, and hands-on and inquiry-based science activities

(Farenga & Joyce, 1998). All of these suggestions can be carried out in a school

garden. School gardens are usually outside the classroom and may seem to students








to be separate from their indoor science lessons. These out of classroom experiences

in the garden may give boys and girls equal opportunities to experience science in a

fun and exciting way. Farenga and Joyce (1998) suggest that these experiences are

ways to stimulate positive science attitudes and increase students' interest in science.

Additionally, Simpson and Oliver (1990) found that the classroom and curriculum are

very influential on students' attitudes toward science. A school garden is a part of the

classroom and curriculum, and since a garden can provide hands-on experiences,

informal science activities, and out of school experiences as suggested by researchers,

this type of classroom experience may stimulate students' interest in and promote

positive attitudes toward science.

Although research has shown that students' attitudes and perceptions of

science are positive in the third grade, these usually decline as the student progresses

to the upper grades (Simpson & Oliver, 1990; Yager & Yager, 1985). Studies of

students in exemplary science programs have shown, however, that students' attitudes

toward science were positive and continued to stay positive as they moved up in

grade level (Yager & Penick, 1989). Yager and McCormack (1989) suggest that

creativity in school science programs and a focus on the real-world connections and

applications can provide students with positive experiences with science. Exemplary

programs were those that stimulated curiosity, made real world connections, and

helped students see the impact of science in their lives and in the world. School

gardens, if designed and used properly, can give students the opportunity to

experience creative science, real world applications, and understand how science

relates to them. Gardens are inherently scientific and, as such, teachers often use them








to enhance science lessons. Using gardens for the purposes of teaching science in an

informal, more exciting manner may be a way to stimulate interest in science and

provide students with the positive attitude toward science that is needed to help

students stay interested in science and possibly even make a career out of science.


Student Attitudes Toward the Environment

Promoting positive environmental attitudes in elementary students through the

use of school gardens has been witnessed by many educators (Anon., 1992; Barron,

1993; Canaris, 1995; Dwight, 1992; Kutsunai, 1994; Montessori, 1912) and several

researchers (Barker, 1992; Alexander et al., 1995; Skelly, 1997; Waliczek, 1997). All

but two Florida elementary school teachers surveyed in a study used school gardens

to teach environmental education (Skelly & Bradley, 2000). Most of the research

conducted with children's environmental attitudes has been conducted with students

participating in environmental education programs.

Ramsey and Rickson (1976) argue that increasing students' knowledge about

the environment is necessary for changing students' attitudes toward the environment.

Knowledge and attitude are both necessary for making informed decisions about

environmental issues. Research has shown that environmental education programs do

promote positive environmental attitudes in students (Bradley et al., 1997; Bryant &

Hungerford, 1977; Dresner & Gill, 1994; Jaus, 1982, 1984; Ramsey & Rickson,

1976). Ramsey, Hungerford, and Volk (1992) argue that education concerning

environmental issues is necessary if a society is to carry out environmentally

responsible behavior. Cohen and Horm-Wingerd (1993) found that students in

kindergarten begin to develop attitudes about the environment at an early age. They








concluded from these findings that environmental education, even at an early age, can

result in positive environmental attitudes that may carry on into adulthood. Kelly

(1994) believes schools have the responsibility of educating children about the

environment and how to ultimately care for and protect the environment.

Harvey (1989) found that children's contact and experiences with nature can

affect their environmental dispositions. Harvey found, in a study with 845 (8- to 11-

year-old) children that past experiences with nature positively affected students'

attitudes toward the environment. This study also revealed that any experience

children had with vegetation was important to the prevention of poor environmental

attitudes in children.

Studies have also found that time in nature is a factor when developing

students' environmental attitudes. The amount of time that students participate in

wilderness programs was found by Shephard and Speelman (1985) to affect students'

environmental attitudes. One other study of nature summer camps found that one or

more weeks in contact with nature was enough time for students to develop positive

environmental attitudes (Dresner & Gill, 1984).

Jaus' (1984) conducted a study of whether two hours of environmental

instruction affected students attitudes toward the environment and their retention of

these attitudes. Jaus found that two hours of instruction were effective in developing

positive environmental attitudes in young children (third graders). Jaus also found

that these attitudes were retained over time (after two years).

Studies of teachers and school gardens and anecdotal testimony about school

garden benefits show that teachers are using school gardens to teach students about








the environment. Recent studies have shown that school gardens can instill positive

environmental attitudes in students that use them (Skelly, 1997; Waliczek, 1997).

School gardens are places where teachers can teach environmental education and

students can have contact with nature. This combination of education and experience

is why a garden may be an ideal place to improve students' attitudes toward the

environment.


Summary of Literature

Gardening is a very popular hobby that has been shown to have beneficial

effects on people who garden. These benefits include peace and tranquility, a sense

of control, and relaxation (Butterfield & Relf, 1992). Additional benefits that people

gain from gardening include the enjoyment of producing food, learning, enjoyment of

the outside, a sense of accomplishment, and a sense of fascination (Kaplan, 1973).

Other studies have shown that gardening can also increase self-esteem and self-

actualization for certain ethnic groups (Waliczek et al., 1996). With gardening being

so popular and so beneficial, many primary and secondary education schools, past

and present, have recognized the benefits gardening may have on students and

therefore utilize school gardens.

School gardens have been in existence for centuries and have spanned the

globe. School gardens were thought to be places where students could learn about

plants, agriculture, nature, and almost any subject being taught in schools (Bachert,

1976). Early educators and professionals also recognized that school gardens could

also be a place to foster moral development in terms of patience, responsibility, care

and nurturing, and appreciation for nature (Montessori, 1912; Bachert, 1976). Even








today, educators recognize the benefits children can gain from school gardens. A

review of anecdotal testimony of educators using school gardens shows that educators

discuss five categories of school garden benefits. Moral development in terms of

cooperation, patience, self-control, pride, leadership, an understanding of and

appreciation for work, and responsibility were all cited by educators as benefits of

students' school garden experiences (In Virginia, 1992; Becker, 1995; Berghom,

1988; Braun, 1994; Canaris, 1995; Craig, 1997; Davies, 1995; Dwight, 1992; Gwynn,

1988; Neer, 1990; Pivnick, 1994). Educators also recognized that students were

benefiting academically from school garden experiences. Teachers discussed how

school gardens made learning fun and exciting for their students, while at the same

time helping in teaching them about problem-solving, observing, plants, weather,

social studies, math, science, and nutrition (Braun, 1989; Canaris, 1995; Gwynn,

1988; Oehring, 1993; Stetson, 1991).

Teachers also recognized that school gardens were places where students

could learn to be a part of their community as well as feel a part of their community

(In Virginia, 1992; Barron, 1993; Braun, 1989; Canaris, 1995; Dwight, 1992;

Kutsunai, 1994; Neer, 1990). Educating children about nature and giving them

opportunities to be in contact with nature were other benefits cited by teachers.

Educators contend that gardens help children connect and bond with nature, while

also teaching them how to nurture and respect living things. Gardens are places that

can help children develop environmentally positive attitudes (Becker, 1995; Canaris,

1995; Chawla, 1994; Gwynn, 1988; Heffeman, 1994; Pennington, 1988; Pivnick,

1994; Stetson, 1991). Many of these benefits are the observations of a single teacher








with his/her students. However there is documented research that supports the claims

of these teachers.

Research with teachers has shown that teachers use school gardens to enhance

the learning of their students, promote experiential learning, and teach environmental

education (DeMarco, 1999; Skelly & Bradley, 2000). Studies have also found that

using school gardens to teach does in fact improve students' learning (Sheffield,

1992) and environmental dispositions (Alexander et al., 1995; Barker, 1992; Skelly,

1997; Waliczek, 1997; Wotowiec, 1975). The research exploring the benefits of

school gardens has not, however, examined the role of school gardens in the

development of school children in terms of youth developmental assets, attitudes

toward science, and environmental attitudes within the context of cognitive

developmental and educational theories. Exploring these variables within a

theoretical framework was the purpose of this study.

Youth developmental assets are skills children need to become healthy,

productive, and responsible adults. The Search Institute has carried out extensive

research documenting what assets are and how they contribute to the development of

children and adolescents (Benson et al., 1997). Four assets, responsibility,

achievement motivation, school engagement, and interpersonal competence were

focused on for this study. These assets were investigated because they have been

observed by teachers using school gardens.

Many teachers and researchers indicate that school gardens are being used to

teach science. Using a garden to teach science may ultimately influence children's

attitudes toward science. Students' attitudes toward science have been the subject of








much research. Studies have been conducted to determine how students feel about

science and what their attitudes toward science mean for their future in science.

These research studies have found that efforts need to be taken in elementary school

to improve students' attitudes toward science. If this does not happen, students'

attitudes toward science decline as they progress through school. These declining

attitudes affect how many science classes students enroll in and ultimately, whether

students consider careers in science (Catsambis, 1995; Farenga & Joyce, 1998; Yager

& McCormack, 1985; Yager & Yager, 1989). Offering classes that make science fun,

exciting, related to the real world, and informal can result in developing positive

attitudes toward science in students. School gardens can provide teachers with a

forum to enhance science lessons, make science creative, fun, and related to the real

world.

A common theme running through historical, anecdotal, and research

literature on school gardens is that school gardens provide children with a sense of

nature and reasons to care for nature and the environment. Positive attitudes toward

the environment are important factors for making informed decisions about

environmental policies and issues (Ramsey & Rickson, 1976). Studies have shown

that contact with nature, even in small amounts, can positively influence a child's

attitudes toward the environment (Dresner & Gill, 1984; Harvey, 1989; Shephard &

Speelman, 1985). Additionally, minimal instruction about the environment with third

graders was shown to be effective in developing and retaining positive attitudes

toward the environment (Jaus, 1984). Research exploring how school garden

experiences impact students environmental attitudes has shown that gardens do






85

indeed result in students having more positive environmental attitudes (Skelly, 1997;

Waliczek, 1997).














CHAPTER 3
METHODOLOGY


The goal of this study was to explore the benefits of school gardens to the

students participating in them. This chapter describes the procedures followed to

develop teacher and student surveys, collect data, develop a typology of school

garden intensity, and a discussion of univariate statistics.


Participant Selection

The participants for this study were drawn from elementary schools in Florida

participating in the Florida School Garden Competition and the Project SOAR

(Sharing Our Agricultural Roots) school gardening program. The Florida School

Garden Competition is a statewide program developed by the University of Florida's

Department of Environmental Horticulture and the EPCOT International Flower

and Garden Festival. The competition invites teachers in elementary schools

throughout Florida to showcase their school gardens and compete for prizes. The

Florida Department of Education provided an address list of all elementary schools in

the state. A promotional brochure for the 1999-2000 competition and an interest-

information card were sent to all elementary schools in Florida using this address list.

Interested teachers or administrators with school gardens wishing to participate in the

competition returned the interest-information card to the Department of

Environmental Horticulture at the University of Florida. Included on the interest-




Full Text
xml version 1.0 standalone yes
Volume_Errors
Errors
PageID P653
ErrorID 6
P656
6
P659
6