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The growing phenomenon of school gardens

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

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Assets ( jstor )
Flowers ( jstor )
Gardening ( jstor )
Gardens ( jstor )
Learning ( jstor )
Schools ( jstor )
Student attitudes ( jstor )
Student surveys ( jstor )
Students ( jstor )
Teachers ( jstor )
Dissertations, Academic -- Environmental Horticulture -- UF ( lcsh )
Environmental Horticulture thesis, Ph.D ( lcsh )
Gardening ( lcsh )
School gardens ( lcsh )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

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

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University of Florida
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Copyright [name of dissertation author]. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
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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-




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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,
IV

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
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS iv
LIST OF TABLES ix
LIST OF FIGURES xii
ABSTRACT xiii
CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION 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 Development 12
Piaget's theory of cognitive development 12
Vygotsky sociocultural theory and Bandura's theories 19
Bronfenbrenner's Ecology of Human Development 23
Experiential Learning Theory 28
Theoretical Relationships 31
Summary Statement of the Problem 35
CHAPTER 2. REVIEW OF LITERATURE 39
Benefits of Gardening 39
History of School Gardens 44
Benefits of School Gardens 48
Moral Development 49
Academic Learning 50
Sense of Community 51
Environmental Awareness 51
School Garden Research 52
Research with Teachers Using School Gardens 53
VI

Research with Students Using School Gardens 54
Interview research 55
Survey research 58
Youth Developmental Assets 64
Positive values 66
Social competencies 67
Commitment to learning 1 68
Student Attitudes toward Science 69
Student Attitudes toward the Environment 79
Summary of Literature 81
CHAPTER 3. METHODOLOGY 86
Participant Selection 86
Measuring the Dependent Variables 88
Measuring 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
CHAPTER 4. RESULTS AND ANALYSIS 109
Research Question 1 109
Research Question 2 124
Research Question 3 126
Research Question 4 132
Research Question 5 134
CHAPTER 5. DISCUSSION 140
Study Summary 140
Purpose of this Study 142
Discussion of Findings 144
Research Question 1 144
Research Question 2 150
Research Question 3 151
Research Question 4 155
Research Question 5 157
Limitations of the Study 160
Implications 161
Implications for Theory 161
Implications 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
Methodological issues 165
Additional studies 167
Implications for Practice 170
Contributions of this Study 175
REFERENCES 177
APPENDIXES
APPENDIX A. FLOWER SCALE USED IN STUDENT SURVEY 186
APPENDIX B. SCALE RELIABILITY AND CORRELATIONAL
STATISTICS 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
viii

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 number 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
IX

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
x

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
XI

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
xii

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.
XI

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,
1

2
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

3
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

4
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 factor(s) 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

7
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.

8
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).

9
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.

10
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?

11
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.

12
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

13
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
2 to 7 years
Language development
Ability to think and solve problems intuitively, through
symbols
Thinking is rigid, centered, and egocentric
Concrete
operations
7 to 12 years
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,

15
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

16
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).

17
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

18
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 leam
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

19
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 bom 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

20
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)

21
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 asocially.” According to Bandura,

22
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
â—„
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

23
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

24
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 bom 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).

25
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

26
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

27
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

28
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 modern 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.l). 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

29
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).

30
Direct
Experience
Active
Experimentation
Reflection &
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,” “hows,” 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 (Osborne, 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.”

31
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

32
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

34
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

35
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; Berghom, 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.

36
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

37
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

38
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.
39

40
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

41
‘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)

42
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

43
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’
Didáctica maintaing 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).

45
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

46
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.

47
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

48
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

49
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; Berghom, 1988; Canaris, 1995; Gwynn, 1988; In
Virginia, 1992; Neer, 1990). Another virtue observed in children who use school

50
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
(Berghom, 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

51
(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

52
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). Heffernan (1994, p. 223) states
that “gardens are the most accessible places for children to learn about nature’s
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,

53
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

54
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

55
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

56
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

57
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.

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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,

59
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,

60
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.

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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

62
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

63
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

64
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

65
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

66
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.

67
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

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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

69
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 ah,
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

70
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

71
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.

72
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 conforming] 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

73
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

74
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

75
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,

76
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

77
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

78
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

79
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

80
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

81
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

82
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; Berghorn,
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; Heffernan, 1994; Pennington, 1988; Pivnick,
1994; Stetson, 1991). Many of these benefits are the observations of a single teacher

83
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

84
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-
86

87
information card was a question asking teachers if they would be interested in
participating in a University of Florida study examining the benefits of school
gardens to students. A statement followed the question informing teachers that their
willingness to participate or not participate in no way affected their chances in the
Florida School Garden Competition. Third grade students were selected to be
participants in this study for several reasons. Students in third-grade are between the
ages of nine and ten. At this age, students are in Piaget’s concrete operational stage,
which is characterized by a child’s ability to logically solve concrete or hands-on
problems. Since this logical thinking is tied to physical reality, instruction that is
comprised of problem solving, experimentation, concrete learning activities, and
active exploration and interaction with adults, children, and materials is
recommended. Theoretically, school garden instruction can provide these types of
learning experiences and would be most effective for children in the concrete
operational stage. The other reason third grade students were chosen to participate in
this study was because the science Sunshine State Standards for third-grade include
the life science topics that deal specifically with plants. Third-grade teachers may use
the garden to address these standards.
After interest-information cards were received from 130 teachers,
encompassing grade levels from Kindergarten to sixth grade, the researcher contacted
all third grade teachers who indicated a willingness to participate in the study to
solicit their and their students’ participation. Twenty-six third grade teachers from
the Florida School Garden Competition agreed to participate in this study. These
schools were located throughout the state of Florida.

88
The remaining three teachers participating in the study were drawn from a
group of schools participating in the Project SOAR school garden program. Project
SOAR is an agricultural outreach program started by professors at the University of
Florida’s Everglades Research and Education Center with elementary schools in Palm
Beach County Florida. The SOAR program works with participating schools to build
school gardens or miniature plant nurseries and to supply necessary tools and
equipment required to run the garden or nursery. The program also assigns a
“garden-knowledgeable” person to each school to assist in the development,
maintenance, and management of the school garden (Nagata & Raid, 1997, p. 403).
A list of 23 participating schools was obtained from the professors at the Everglades
Research Center and calls were made to schools to solicit participation in this study.
Only three of the twenty-three schools participating in Project SOAR had third grade
students participating in the program. The teachers of these three third grade classes
agreed to participate in this research project. The final participant group for this
study consisted of 29 teachers and 466 students (Table 3-1). Most of these schools
were located in residential areas (85.7%). The remaining schools were located in
rural areas (14.3%). No school reported being located in commercial sectors.
Measuring the Dependent Variables
A student survey was constructed to measure the dependent variables of youth
developmental assets: responsibility, achievement motivation, school engagement,
and interpersonal competence; students’ attitudes toward science; and students’
attitudes toward the environment. Established scales were used to measure each of
these variables.

89
Table 3-1. Number of classes, teachers, and students participating in the study.
School
Classes
Teachers
Students
Elementary School 1
1
1
2
Elementary School 2
1
1
3
Elementary School 3
1
1
21
Elementary School 4
1
1
10
Elementary School 5
1
1
12
Elementary School 6
1
1
18
Elementary School 7
1
1
16
Elementary School 8
1
1
19
Elementary School 9
1
1
49
Elementary School 10
1
1
16
Elementary School 11
3
3
46
Elementary School 12
2
2
23
Elementary School 13
1
1
15
Elementary School 14
2
1
19
Elementary School 15
2
2
37
Elementary School 16
1
1
16
Elementary School 17
1
1
23
Elementary School 18
3
3
52
Elementary School 19
1
1
9
Elementary School 20
1
1
8
Elementary School 21
1
1
26
Elementary School 22
1
1
26
Total
28
29
466
To assess the youth developmental assets of responsibility, school
engagement, achievement motivation, and interpersonal competence, items from the
Search Institute’s Profiles of Student Life: Attitudes and Behaviors measure (Scales &
Leffert, 1997) were used. This measure is a 156-item self-report survey for 6th
through 12th grade students. Twelve items pertaining to the assets under investigation
were selected from this measure and altered slightly so that they would be
understandable to third grade students. The Profiles of Student Life survey only
contained two statements to measure responsibility, therefore two additional

90
statements were developed. These additional statements were developed using
information gathered from the literature and interviews with teachers.
To assess students’ attitudes toward science, the Attitudes, Preferences, and
Understandings (1988) scale was used. This scale was developed by researchers at
the University of Iowa by taking questions from the National Assessment of
Educational Progress batteries. Researchers have used this instrument with several
thousand students from grade three to young adult. This assessment tool was
developed to measure students’ attitudes toward their science teachers, science
classes, usefulness of science study, and perceptions of being a scientist (Yager &
McCormack, 1988). Ten questions from three of the four domains, those measuring
attitudes toward science teachers, science classes, and usefulness of science study
were used. Since this study was concerned with the benefits of school gardens to
students, five questions related to school gardens were developed. These garden
questions were patterned after the Attitudes, Preferences, and Understandings items.
To measure the final variable of interest, attitudes toward the environment,
two measurement tools were used. Items to measure students’ environmental
attitudes were taken from the Children's Environmental Response Inventory (CERI)
developed by Bunting and Cousins (1985) and an environmental attitude scale
developed by Jaus (1984). These two measures were used to obtain attitudes on a
wide range of environmental attitudes. Seven items were taken from the CERI and
Jaus’ scale to make up the environmental attitude measure for this study.
Items from each of the measurement tools were compiled into a single survey
for students. The answer scales for several of the questions from each measurement

91
tool were changed so that all the questions on the student survey would have the same
answer scale for ease of reading and comprehension. The wording for several of the
questions was also altered slightly to accommodate for the change in the answer scale
and to match the reading level of third grade students. The answer scale used for
each question on the student survey was a Likert-type scale with five responses:
always, most of the time, half the time, sometimes, and never. In addition to these
responses, a graphical representation of each word/phrase was developed. One study
conducted by Cook, Church, Ajanaku, Shadish, Kim, and Cohen (1996) found that
graphical representations of volume helped second grade students understand the
answer scale more easily. For the answer scale on the student survey, a graphical
representation of a daisy with eight petals was developed and used. The number of
petals on the daisy corresponded to the answers: always (eight petals), most of the
time (six petals), half the time (four petals), sometimes (two petals), and never (no
petals, just the center of the daisy) (Appendix A). Pilot testing of the survey indicated
that the flower scale helped students understand the answer and students did not
answer the question based on their preference for the flower with all the petals versus
the flower with fewer or no petals. These responses were then coded such that 5 =
always, 4 = most of the time, 3 = half the time, 2 = sometimes, and 1 = never.
In addition to questions related to the variables of interest, demographic
questions were included on the student survey. These demographic questions
included student’s name, teacher’s name, birthday, gender, and ethnicity. The
teacher’s name was included so that the student surveys could be matched with their
teacher’s survey for subsequent analyses. Students were asked to give the month,

92
day, and year of their birthday. This information allowed for a more accurate
measure of age in terms of month and year. Students were also asked to mark their
ethnicity in terms of Black or African American, Asian, Hispanic, White, or Indian or
Native American. The terms “Black” and “Indian” were used along with their more
politically correct terms, as pilot testing of the survey indicated that some students did
not understand the politically correct terms.
After data collection, each scale measuring the dependent variables was factor
analyzed using principle components extraction to assess the makeup and reliability
of the scales. Factor analysis of the twelve items from the Profiles of Student Life
scale, measuring youth developmental assets, produced four subscales, of which only
the scale measuring responsibility had an index reliability that could be used (Table
B-l, Appendix B). The other items measuring school engagement, achievement
motivation, and interpersonal competence did not measure what they were reported to
measure and were, therefore, not used for subsequent analyses in this study. Further
analysis of the items loading on the responsibility factor showed that these factors
were correlated and could be used as one scale (Table B-2, Appendix B). The
responses to each statement in the responsibility scale were summed and the mean
taken to represent the degree of responsibility the students indicated. This mean score
was used as the dependent variable of responsibility. Reliability for the responsibility
scale was established via Chronbach’s alpha. The responsibility scale had an alpha of
.53, a mean of 4.46, and a standard deviation of .55. The mean for each scale was
taken to retain the original metric of the responses and for ease of interpretation.

93
Items from the Attitudes, Preferences, and Understandings scale, measuring
students’ attitudes toward science, were factor analyzed and produced two subscales:
attitudes toward science and the perceived usefulness of science study (Table B-3,
Appendix B). Items measuring students’ attitudes toward science were analyzed and
found to be correlated (Table B-4, Appendix B) as were the items measuring
students’ attitudes toward the usefulness of science study (Table B-5, Appendix B).
The responses to each statement in the attitudes and usefulness scales were summed
and the mean taken to represent students’ attitudes toward science and perceived
usefulness of science study. These mean scores were used as the dependent variables
of science attitude and science usefulness. The science attitude scale had an alpha of
.90, a mean of 3.96, and a standard deviation of 1.04. The usefulness of science study
scale had an alpha of .65, a mean of 3.76, and a standard deviation of .87.
Items measuring students’ attitudes toward the garden were patterned after the
items in the Attitudes, Preferences, and Understandings scale. The responses to each
statement in the garden scale were summed and the mean taken to represent students’
garden attitudes. The garden items were factor analyzed and all items loaded on one
factor (Table B-6, Appendix B). Correlational analysis showed these items to be
correlated (Table B-7, Appendix B). The attitudes toward the garden scale had an
alpha of .92, a mean of 4.19, and a standard deviation of 1.01.
Items measuring students’ attitudes toward the environment, when factor
analyzed, produced multiple domains. However, four items dealing with caring for
the environment did emerge as a reliable index (Table B-8, Appendix B). These
items were found to be correlated (Table B-9, Appendix B) and were combined to

94
serve as the environmental attitude scale. The three items that did not load on this
caring factor were factors that were more abstract and thought to be not fully
understood by the third grade students and were therefore not included in the scale.
The responses to each statement measuring students’ attitudes toward the
environment were summed and the mean taken to represent students’ attitudes toward
the environment. The attitudes toward the environment scale had an alpha of .59, a
mean of 4.81, and a standard deviation of .41. Univariate statistics for each scale
used in the student survey are reported in Table 3-2.
Measuring the Independent Variables
In this study, the independent variables were conceptualized into three
domains: student individual factors, school garden type, and school garden intensity.
The student individual factors were the demographic factors of age, gender, and
ethnicity. School garden type and intensity were determined from information
gathered from a teacher survey. Based on information gained from teachers about
their school garden type and intensity, a typology was developed and served as an
independent variable.
Individual Factors
Individual factors were measured from demographic variables. These
variables included age, gender, and ethnicity. The mean age of students in this study
was 9.01 and all students were enrolled in the third grade. Of the participants, 47.2%
were male and 52.8% were female. The majority of the students were white (73.6%),
with a small percentage of African American (15.6%), Native American (3.7%),

95
Hispanic (6.0%), and Asian (1.1%). For subsequent analyses, the ethnicity of the
group was divided into white (73.6%) and other (26.4%).
Typology of School Gardens
A typology of school gardens based on garden form and intensity was created
from information gained from the teacher survey. Development of this survey was
conducted through researcher observations of school garden programs, interviews
with teachers using school gardens, and a Delphi Technique interview with an expert
panel of teachers using school gardens. The survey contained 19 questions designed
to elicit information from teachers about their school gardens. This information was
used to develop a typology of school garden programs.
A typology is a type of model. A model, in terms of research, is a way to
summarize data for a given set of observations (Lunneborg, 1994). Bailey (1994)
defines a typology to be a type of classification that is multidimensional and
conceptual in nature. It is a classification method that orders data to create ideal
types. Classification is the ordering of entities into groups or classes based on their
similarities. Classification seeks to minimize within-group variance while
maximizing between-group variance. This allows each group to be as homogeneous
as possible, while the difference between groups remains as heterogeneous as
possible.

Table 3-2. Univariate statistics for dependent variables scales.
5
4
3
2
1
Most of
Half the
Always
the time
time
Sometimes
Never
Statement
N
%
%
%
%
%
M
SD
Responsibility scale
448
4.46
.55
I care how well I do in school.
447
86.4
11.4
1.1
1.1
0.0
4.83
.48
At school, I try as hard as I can to do my best work.
447
79.4
17.4
2.2
0.9
0.0
4.75
.53
I accept responsibility for my actions when I make a
mistake or get in trouble.
440
43.0
36.8
8.2
9.3
2.7
4.08
1.06
I do my best even when it is a job I do not like to
do.
447
51.5
28.4
7.6
9.2
3.4
4.15
1.11
Science attitude scale
448
3.96
1.04
Science time is fun.
448
47.5
25.2
11.2
9.6
6.5
3.98
1.25
Science makes me want to learn more.
447
51.2
19.5
11.4
13.6
4.3
4.00
1.25
I like science.
447
49.4
23.7
10.7
10.7
5.4
4.01
1.23
Science time is exciting.
447
38.3
28.6
13.9
13.6
5.6
3.80
1.24
Science time is boring.1
446
7.6
7.0
8.3
29.6
47.5
4.02
1.24
Usefulness of science study scale
448
3.76
.87
Science time helps me test ideas I have.
442
42.8
26.5
13.3
11.5
5.9
3.89
1.24
Science time teaches me skills to use outside of
school.
~ln r. .. • .... . i i ~ ,
442
45.2
25.6
12.7
11.3
5.2
3.94
1.22
'Scores for this statement were recoded so that a score of 5 meant students never found science boring and 1 meant students always found
science boring.
NO
ON

Table 3-2 continued. Univariate statistics for dependent variables scales.
5
4
3
2
1
Most of
Half the
Always
the time
time
Sometimes
Never
Statement
N
%
%
%
%
%
M
SD
Usefulness of science study scale cant'd.
My teacher wants me to ask questions when we do
441
39.0
21.5
12.9
21.3
5.2
3.68
1.32
science.
Being a scientist would be fun.
446
40.6
18.6
13.0
15.7
12.1
3.60
1.45
Being a scientist that studies plants would be fun.
446
44.2
20.6
12.6
14.6
10.1
3.70
1.40
Environmental attitude scale
447
4.81
.41
I think people should take care of plants and
animals.
445
94.2
3.8
1.1
0.9
0.0
4.91
.40
I think people should try to recycle.
443
86.9
8.4
3.2
1.4
0.2
4.80
.57
I think people must take care of the environment.
442
91.0
6.1
1.8
1.1
0.0
4.87
.47
I think newspapers should be recycled.
445
81.3
8.8
4.5
3.8
1.6
4.64
.86
Garden attitude scale
445
4.20
1.01
Working in the garden is fun.
443
65.2
17.8
7.7
7.2
2.0
4.37
1.03
Working in the garden makes me want to learn
442
52.3
22.6
10.0
10.2
5.0
4.07
1.21
more.
Working in the garden is exciting.
439
57.2
20.3
9.3
10.0
3.2
4.18
1.15
The garden makes learning fun.
440
60.5
16.4
9.8
8.6
4.8
4.19
1.20
The garden helps me learn new things.
439
54.7
21.9
9.1
10.7
3.6
4.13
1.17

98
Typologies represent type concepts rather than empirical cases, whereas
taxonomies are concerned with empirical cases. Typologies, however, lead to an
increased understanding of the empirical world (Luloff, 1987). Typologies are often
arrived at in the course of an attempt to construct an index or scale (Babbie, 1992).
The cells of a typological table become types or type concepts and typologies are
characterized by labels or names in their cells and are usually composed of
monothetic classes. Monothetic classes are classes containing cases that are all
identical on all variables or dimensions being measured (Bailey, 1994). Because
typologies involve more than one dimension, the dimensions are usually correlated or
related. The dimensions are also typically composed of categorical data, such as
nominal or ordinal variables.
Typologies, being a form of classification, are very useful in the social
sciences. Classifications provide the basis for conceptualization, language,
mathematics, statistics and much more, including social science research (Bailey,
1994). Bailey identifies ten advantages for classification in the social sciences. The
first advantage is that classification is a foremost tool for description. A good
classification gives the researcher an opportunity to provide an exhaustive and
sometimes definitive array of types. This descriptive tool also allows for a quick
assessment of how a particular type scores on a particular dimension as well as which
types are contiguous to a particular type. The second advantage of a typological
classification is the reduction of complexity. Typologies allow the researcher to
simplify reality in a way that can be analyzed. It takes a seemingly large amount of
data and condenses it into salient types. Identification of similarities and differences

99
among types are the third and fourth advantages identified. These advantages allow
the researcher to either group similar cases or separate dissimilar cases for subsequent
analysis. Another reason typologies are important to the social scientist is because
they present an exhaustive list of dimensions. A good typology will display an
exhaustive set of types as well as the exhaustive set of dimensions on which the types
are based. This ensures that the typology is very comprehensive and is able to show
the relationship among types and dimensions. Classification allows the researcher to
quickly and easily compare types. Typologies also allow for easy appraisal of
variation in types. The seventh identified advantage of classification is that types are
easily inventoried and located. This also allows for identification of what types are
available for analysis. Typological classifications are useful in the social sciences
because they provide a format for studying relationships and even the specification of
hypotheses concerning such relationships. A final advantage of a typology is the
ability to use types for measurement. A researcher can select a type as the criterion
and compare how other types relate to this criterion. The type selected may be
chosen as the ideal type, an extreme or heightened representation of all dimensions in
the typology, and thus allow for analysis as to how other types relate to the ideal type.
The use of school gardens by teachers is a very diverse practice. Many
different types, styles, and sizes of gardens exist. Additionally, due to climatic
conditions, gardens differ with respect to what and when plants can be grown in a
garden. Teachers also use the garden for many differing tasks. Recent research has
found that teachers are using school gardens for teaching, social achievement,
environmental stewardship, experiential learning, and as a tool to teach a multitude of

100
subjects (DeMarco, 1999; Skelly & Bradley, 2000). Additionally, in the initial stages
of this research study, interviews with teachers and correspondence with a panel of
experts indicated that teachers in Florida were using gardens to varying degrees and
for varying purposes. Regardless of the type, style, size, location, and use of school
gardens, it is important to examine how the use of a school garden may affect the
students who use school gardens.
It would be nearly impossible to have a set of teachers create identical gardens
and use them in identical ways. In reality, teachers across the country are creating
gardens and using them in diverse fashions (DeMarco, 1999; Skelly & Bradley,
2000). In order to assess the impact school gardens may be having on students, it is
necessary to set up a means of classifying school gardens. For the purposes of this
study, school gardens are referred to as school garden programs. A school garden
program encompasses not only the garden itself, but also how teachers and students
are using the garden both in and outside the classroom. Due to the diversity of school
garden programs throughout schools in Florida, it was determined that a typology of
school garden programs would be created on the basis of intensity (high, medium,
and low) and form (vegetable, flower, and combination vegetable/flower).
Bailey (1994) defines the one secret to successful classification as being the
ability to ascertain the key or fundamental characteristics on which the classification
is to be based. For this research project, the first step in determining these
characteristics of school garden program intensity was to find out first hand the types
of gardens in schools and how these gardens were being used by teachers. In
February 1999, two observations of school garden programs were carried out. For

101
these observations, the researcher went to an elementary school in Florida and
observed two teachers each using a different garden. During the observations, the
researcher made notes on the location of the garden, type of garden and plants being
grown and planted, size of the garden, types of activities in which students
participated while in the garden, type of instruction that occurred in the garden, and
questions being asked by teachers and students in the garden.
Following the observations, interviews with 10 Florida elementary school
teachers were conducted. Teachers who participated in the 1998-1999 Florida School
Garden Competition were randomly selected and asked to participate in an interview
with the researcher. These teachers were asked numerous questions concerning their
school garden programs. The researcher asked questions relating to how long they
had been teaching, if they gardened at home, reasons for using a school garden, type
of garden at the school, how the garden was used by students, how the garden was
used by the teacher both in and out of the classroom, level of involvement of students,
amount of time spent in the garden, and experiences related to the garden. The
answers to these questions helped to formulate the basic questions that would start
another interview process, known as the Delphi Technique.
The Delphi Technique is a process in which an expert panel is identified and
then asked a series of questions, each set of questions building on the answers of the
previous question set (Dalkey, 1969). For this study, an expert panel of eight teachers
was identified and asked to participate in the Delphi Technique interview process.
Once the expert panel was assembled, a series of question sets were sent out via email
or regular postal mail. The first question set was sent in April 1999. The panel was

102
given two weeks to return their answers to the researcher. Responses from each
question set were summarized and were used to generate the next question set. This
process took place four times over a three-month period ending in June 1999.
Information gained from the observations, interviews, and the Delphi
interviews suggested a number of possible factors for measuring the intensity of a
school garden program (Table 3-3). These factors were organized into questions for
the teacher survey.
In addition to factors of intensity, the typology also consisted of the dimension
of form of the garden. For the purposes of this study, form of the garden was limited
to vegetable garden, flower garden, or a combination of vegetable and flower garden.
Vegetable gardens were used by 14.3% of the teachers participating in this study.
Flower gardens were being used by 39.3% of the teachers and 46.4% of the teachers
were using combination vegetable/flower gardens. Garden forms can be extremely
diverse, therefore these categories were set to reduce this reality into a more
manageable form.
The typology used in this study was constructed using the dimensions of
garden intensity (high, medium, low) based on number of garden-related activities
students participated in prior to and while in the garden and garden form (vegetable,
flower, combination) (Table 3-4). Figure 3-1 illustrates the distribution of number of
activities students participated in prior to and while in the garden. Garden intensity
and form were cross tabulated to form nine categories: (a) low-intensity vegetable
garden, (b) low-intensity flower garden, (c) low-intensity combination garden, (d)
medium-intensity vegetable garden, (e) medium-intensity flower garden, (f) medium-

103
intensity combination garden, (g) high-intensity vegetable garden, (h) high-intensity
flower garden, and (i) high-intensity combination garden. These nine categories
constituted the conceptual “types” of school gardens1.
Table 3-3. Possible factors to measure school garden intensity.
Factor
1. Average number of hours per week the students spend in the garden.
2. Number and type of garden-related activities students participate in prior to gardening.
3. Number and type of garden-related activities students participate in while in the garden.
4. Percentage of time the teacher uses the garden as an instructional tool in the classroom.
5. Number and type of subject areas into which the school garden program has been
incorporated.
6. Number of years the school garden has been a part of the teacher’s curriculum.
7. Type of group configuration that is used in the garden (individual, small groups, large
groups).
8. Approximate size of the garden.
9. Forms of volunteer help used when gardening with students.
10. Sources of information used to assist in the incorporation of school gardening into the
curriculum.
11. Types of educational material used in the classroom to support use of school gardening in the
curriculum.
12. How teacher and students utilize the end product of the garden.
13. How students share the garden with others.
14. Whether (and how) student teams/groups work on garden related assignments and activities.
15. Number and type of science Sunshine State Standards that are addressed through the use of
the school garden.
‘The typology for this study was based solely on the number of garden related activities students
participated in prior to and while in the garden. Analyses were run with this single factor and with
additional factors and it was found that nothing more was gained with the added factors. Correlation
analyses of this factor and the other factors showed the factors to be significantly correlated (Table F-
1, Appendix F). Therefore to keep the typology simple and elegant the best factor, number of activities
was used. The procedure for construction of the typology is discussed on pg. 121.

104
Table 3-4. Typology of school garden programs.
Intensity
Low (0-8) Medium (9-11) High (12-14)
Garden Vegetable garden
a) LV
d) MV
g) HV
Form Flower garden
b) LF
e) MF
h) HF
Combination garden
c) LC
f) MC
i) HC
O
Number of Activities
Figure 3-1. Distribution of number of activity scores.
Procedure for Data Collection
Pilot Test
A pilot test of the student survey was conducted at Metcalfe Elementary and
at Terrwilliger Elementary in Gainesville, Florida on April 1 and 2, 2000,
respectively to test instrument usability and student comprehension. Third-grade
students participating in the pilot test were part of after-school programs at each
school. The researcher met with students after school and was allowed to work with
the students in a room away from the other after-school students. The researcher,

105
who was unknown to the students, established a rapport with the students by
explaining that she was a university student who needed their help with a survey she
had designed for students their age. The researcher discussed with students the
meaning of a research project and how it involved asking questions and finding out
information. She explained to the students that she needed their help to find out if
students their age understood the questions on the survey.
According to LaGreca (1990), carefully worded instructions are a way to deal
with students tending to give socially desirable answers. Before administering the
survey, the researcher was sure to explain to the students that the survey was about
them and their feelings and that there were no right or wrong answers. She was sure
to emphasize that this was not a test, but rather a survey about them and the way they
felt. She told the students that since the survey was about them, it was OK to have
answers that were different from the other students taking the survey and that they
were to choose the answer they most agreed with.
The researcher led students through the demographic questions on the survey
before moving on to the example question. Initially, it was planned to read the entire
survey out loud to the students to facilitate reading comprehension. However, at the
first school participating in the pilot test, students read ahead and answered at their
own pace despite instructions to the contrary. Once it was apparent that many of the
students were reading ahead and students were on different questions at different
times, the researcher conceded and allowed students to finish on their own and asked
students to raise their hand if they reached a question they did not understand. Notes
were taken on the questions or words that students did not understand. Once all the

106
students were finished with the surveys, the researcher asked the students to point out
any questions or words they found confusing or did not understand or know and noted
these questions and words. The total survey took approximately 30 minutes to
administer.
Student Survey
The Institutional Review Board at the University of Florida requires that when
research involves students, consent from the student’s parent must be obtained.
Therefore, parental consent letters (Appendix C) were sent to the participating
teachers two weeks prior to sending out the student surveys. Teachers were asked to
send home the parental consent letters for parents to sign. Parents were provided with
a copy of the consent letter for their records. Student surveys were sent to the
participating schools the week of April 1, 2000. The third-grade teachers
administered the student surveys as their schedules permitted. Teachers were asked
to return the surveys by April 17, 2000. All teachers, with the exception of one,
completed and returned their surveys during this two-week period. One teacher failed
to receive the surveys when they were first sent, therefore a second set of surveys was
sent the week of April 23, 2000. These surveys were returned by May 10, 2000.
Included with the student surveys were instructions for the teacher on how to
administer the survey (Appendix D). In addition to instructions, a student assent
script was included for the teacher to read to the students to gain their assent to take
the survey. Teachers were also provided with a list of questions that gave students
problems during the pilot test and examples on how to explain the question and/or
answer (Appendix E). Upon completion of the teacher and student surveys, teachers

107
were asked to return the surveys to the researcher. In the event that not all of the
teacher’s students gained parental consent to take the student survey, it was
recommended to teachers that they allow all their students to take the survey, but only
return to the researcher those student surveys who had parental consent. Based on the
number of students teachers reported having in their classes and the number of
student surveys returned, a response rate of 54% was obtained.
Teacher Survey
Teacher surveys were sent to participating teachers along with the student
surveys during the week of April 1, 2000. Teachers were asked to return their
completed surveys along with the student surveys by April 17, 2000. All teachers,
with the exception of one returned the surveys by this specified date. The remaining
teacher returned the surveys by May 10, 2000. Prepaid postage envelopes were
provided so that the teacher would not incur any costs for participation. All the
teachers asked to participate in the study returned the teacher surveys, this accounts
for a 100% response rate among participants.
Statistical Procedures
Initially, descriptive statistics (frequency, mean, standard deviation, range) of
participant characteristics and all measures were computed. Procedures were then
taken to determine the intensity of a school garden program. To accomplish this task,
several typologies were constructed to ascertain which typology best measured school
garden intensity. Once constructed, one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) tests
were run to identity the best typology of school garden intensity. After a typology

108
was identified, correlation analysis was used to determine whether the typology
chosen was correlated with the other possible typologies, thus ensuring that the
typology chosen was effective in explaining school garden intensity and type.
Results of correlation analyses are reported in Table F-l, Appendix F.
Once the suitable typology was found, ANCOVA tests were run to determine
if there were significant differences in regard to garden intensities and types, and the
dependent variables of youth developmental assets - responsibility, students’ attitudes
toward science, students’ attitudes toward the environment, and students’ attitudes
toward the garden. Analysis of covariance is a statistical procedure that employs the
use of a preexisting variable that is correlated with the dependent variables, the
covariate, to improve the precision of the analysis. ANCOVA removes the portion of
the dependent-variable score variance that is associated with the covariate variance,
thus allowing the difference due to the independent variable to be more clear (Ary,
Jacobs, & Razavieh, 1996). The covariate used in the subsequent analyses was the
number of years the school garden had been a part of the curriculum. It was
hypothesized that the number of years the garden had been a part of the curriculum
could affect the intensity of the garden experience as well as students’ asset
development and attitudes toward science, the environment, and the garden. All
analyses were run using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences for
Windows™ Release 9.0 (SPSS®, 1999).

CHAPTER 4
RESULTS AND ANALYSIS
The results of the data analyses will be presented in this chapter. The five
research questions and related hypotheses will be addressed.
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?
From observations, personal interviews, and a Delphi Technique interview
process, several factors were thought to contribute to school garden intensity (Table
3-4). The first factor examined was the number of hours-per-week students spent in
the garden. Teachers were asked to “indicate the number of hours a week, on
average, your students spend in the garden.” This was an open-ended question.
Almost half of the teachers (42.9%) stated that their students spent, on average, one
hour a week in the garden. A quarter of the teachers (25%) said their students spent
1.5 to 2 hours in the garden, while a smaller percentage (21.5%) of teachers said that
their students spent 3 or more hours in the garden (Table 4-1).
Another possible measure of the intensity of a school garden program was the
percentage of time the garden was used as an instructional tool in the classroom.
Teachers were asked to “indicate the percentage of time that you use the garden as an
109

110
instructional tool in your classroom.” This question was open-ended. One teacher
used the garden as an instructional tool 100% of the time, while another used it only
.5% of the time. A little over half of the teachers (53.7%) used the garden as an
instructional tool 10% or less of the time (Table 4-2).
Table 4-1. The number of hours a week, on average, students spend in the
garden.
Hours
per week
n
Valid
percent
Mean SD Min Max
.75
1
3.6
2.36 2.73 .75 15.00
1.00
12
42.9
1.50
1
3.6
1.75
1
3.6
2.00
5
17.9
2.50
2
7.1
3.00
1
3.6
4.00
3
10.7
5.00
1
3.6
15.00
1
3.6
N = 28
Table 4-2. The percent of time the garden is used as an instructional tool in the
classroom.
Percent of Valid
time
n
percent
Mean
SD
Min
Max
0.5
1
3.6
19.19
21.13
0.5
100.0
5.0
7
25.0
7.0
1
3.6
8.0
1
3.6
10.0
5
17.9
15.0
2
7.1
20.0
3
10.7
30.0
2
7.1
33.0
1
3.6
35.0
1
3.6
50.0
2
7.1
100.0
1
3.6
N = 28

Ill
Related to the percent of time the garden was used as an instructional tool in
the classroom, was the number and type of subject areas into which teachers
incorporated the garden. Teachers were asked to “mark the subject area(s) into which
you have incorporated school gardening.” Ten subjects were listed and teachers
could mark all that applied (Table 4-3). All of the teachers participating in this study
used the garden to teach science. All but two of the teachers used the garden to teach
math. Environmental education was used by about two-thirds (67.9%) of the
teachers, while language arts and health and nutrition were subjects 64.3% of the
teachers addressed with the aid of the garden. In almost all cases, teachers were using
the garden to teach multiple subjects.
Table 4-3. Subject areas into which teachers have incorporated school
gardening.
Subject area*
n
Valid
percent
Mean SD Min Max
Science
28
100.0
19.19 21.13 0.5 100.0
Math
26
92.9
Environmental
education
19
67.9
Language arts
18
64.3
Health/nutrition
18
64.3
Ethics
(responsibility
16
57.1
and nuturing)
Social studies
9
32.1
History
6
21.4
Music
6
21.4
Physical
education
4
14.3
*Note: teachers could mark more than one subject area.
N = 28

112
The number of years the school garden program had been a part of the
teachers’ curriculum was thought to be another indicator of the intensity of the
garden. An open-ended question, “please indicate the number of years that school
gardening has been part of your program curriculum” was asked. This was an open-
ended question. Close to half (48.1%) of the gardens being used by participants had
been a part of the curriculum for 1 to 3 years. Several gardens had been a part of the
curriculum for 4 to 5 years (21.4%). Only eight of the gardens being used by teachers
had been a part of the curriculum for 7 or more years (Table 4-4).
Table 4-4. The number of years that school gardening had been a part of
teachers’ curriculum.
Number of
years
n
Valid
percent
Mean SD Min Max
1
4
14.3
4.74 3.46 1 15
2
4
14.3
3
5
17.9
4
3
10.7
5
3
10.7
7
1
3.6
8
4
14.3
10
2
7.1
15
1
3.6
N = 27
Group configuration in the garden was also examined as a possible indicator
of intensity. Teachers were asked “what type of garden set-up(s) are used at your
school?” Five choices were given: a class garden, small group gardens (2 to 5
students), large group gardens (6 to 10 students), individual student gardens, or topic
gardens for all classes. Class gardens were used by 50% of the teachers. Other
arrangements used by teachers were large group gardens (14.3%), small group

113
gardens (7.1%), and topic gardens for all students (7.1%). Several teachers indicated
that they used more that one type of group configuration in the garden.
The size of a school garden was another component thought to contribute to
the intensity of a garden program. Teachers were asked “what is the approximate size
of your garden in square feet.” The question was open-ended. Garden size varied
greatly. One-third (33.5%) of the 21 teachers that answered the question had small
(5ft2 - 45ft2) gardens, one-third had medium-sized gardens (50ft2- 150ft2), and the
final third of the teachers had large gardens (196ft2- 1800 ft2). The mean garden size
was 266ft with a standard deviation of 451ft . Gardens ranged in size from 5ft to
1800ft2.
Teachers were also asked to “indicate which form(s) of volunteer help you
have used when gardening with students at your school” to determine if this
contributed to the intensity of a garden program. Nine choices were given and
teachers were asked to check all forms they used (Table 4-5). The majority (82.1%)
of teachers used parental volunteers to help with their school gardens. The next most
common forms of volunteer help included agriculture education members (35.7%)
and older students at their school (35.7%).
The sources of information teachers used to assist in the incorporation of the
garden into their curriculum were also examined. A question asking teachers to
“indicate the source(s) of information used to assist in the incorporation of school
gardening into your school’s curriculum” was posed. Nine answer choices were
given and teachers could check all sources they used (Table 4-6). Almost all of the
teachers relied on their personal knowledge (89.3%) or friends/volunteers (75.0%) for

114
\
information. Other sources of information came from the County Extension service
(39.3%) and education joumals/publications (39.3%).
Table 4-5. Forms of volunteer help teachers use when gardening with students.
Valid
Form of help* n Percent Mean SD Min Max
Parents
23
82.1
Agriculture education
members
10
35.7
Older students
10
35.7
Master Gardeners
8
28.6
Senior citizens
6
21.4
High school students
5
17.9
Garden club members
3
10.7
4-H members
3
10.7
University students
2
7.1
*Note: teachers could mark more than one form of volunteer help.
N = 28
In addition to the sources of information teachers used, were the types of
educational materials teachers used to incorporate the garden into their curriculum.
“Please indicate the types of educational material(s) used in the classroom to support
the use of school gardening in the curriculum” was asked of the teachers. Eleven
types of materials were listed and teachers could marked all that applied (Table 4-7).
The most common type of educational material teachers used was library books
(89.3%). Gardening magazines and catalogs were the next most common type of
educational material used (64.3%). Personal books, textbooks, trade books, the

115
internet, and experiments were all used by approximately half (53.6%) of the teachers
to support the use of the garden in their curriculum.
Table 4-6. Sources of information teachers use to assist in the incorporation of
school gardening into their curriculum.
Valid
Source* n Percent Mean SD Min Max
Personal knowledge
25
89.3
F riends/vo lunteers
21
75.0
Educational journals/
11
39.3
publications
County extension
11
39.3
service
Teacher in-service
training
National Gardening
10
35.7
10
35.7
Assoc. Newsletter
4-H education materials
8
28.6
*Note: teachers could mark more than one source of information.
N = 28
How teachers and students used the end product of the garden was examined
as a possible intensity factor. Teachers were asked to “mark how you and your
students utilize the end product of your garden.” Six choices were available and
teachers could mark all that applied (Table 4-8). Almost all teachers and their
students (89.3%) observed the end product of the garden. More than half of teachers
and students shared the end product of their garden. Eating the end product of their
garden was also utilized by about half of the teachers and students.

116
Table 4-7. Types of educational materials teachers use to support the use of
school gardening in their curriculum.
Valid
Source* n Percent Mean SD Min Max
Library books
25
89.3 5.7
3.2
0 11
Gardening magazines
and catalogs
18
64.3
Internet
17
60.7
Text books
15
53.6
Trade books
15
53.6
Personal books
15
53.6
Experiments
15
53.6
Videos
14
50.0
Newspapers
13
46.4
Computer software
9
32.1
Filmstrips
3
10.7
*Note: teachers could mark more than one type of material.
N = 28
Table 4-8. How teachers and students utilized the end product of their garden.
Activity*
n
Valid
Percent Mean
SD
Min Max
Observe
25
89.3 3.4
1.6
0 6
Share
18
64.3
Eat
15
53.6
Record
14
50.0
Donate
12
42.9
Display
11
39.3
*Note: teachers could mark more than one activity.
N = 28

117
An additional factor examined as a potential indicator of intensity was how
students shared their garden with others. Teachers were asked to “please mark how
your students share the garden with others.” Three choices: share work/process, share
knowledge, and share products were listed and teachers could mark all that applied.
The majority of teachers (78.6%) indicated that their students shared their work and
the process with others. Many teachers (71.4%) also marked that their students
shared their knowledge of the garden with others, while a little over half of the
teachers (57.1%) marked that their students shared the garden products with others.
Of the three ways the garden could be shared, about half the teachers (46.4%)
reported that their students shared the garden two ways.
Teachers were also asked “do you have student teams/groups that work on
garden-related assignments/activities?” Teachers could answer “yes” or “no.” If
teachers answered “yes,” they were asked to describe the team/group
assignments/activities. A majority of the teachers (67.9%) indicated that students
were put in teams or groups, however, very few described the types of
assignments/activities on which the groups/teams worked.
Since students’ science attitudes were examined in this study, another element
examined for its role in contributing to the intensity of the garden program was the
number and type of science Sunshine State Standards (educational standards set by
the Florida Department of Education) that were addressed through the use of the
school garden. The number of standards addressed through the use of the garden
ranged from 7 to 46 out of 46 possible standards. One quarter of the teachers were
using the garden to address 7 to 20 standards. A little over a third of the teachers

118
were using the garden to address 21-26 standards and almost half (42.9%) of the
teachers were addressing 27 to 46 standards with the garden. The mean number of
standards addressed with the garden was 27 with a standard deviation of 10. The
most common standards addressed through the use of the garden were those related to
the processes that shape the earth, the nature of science, processes of life, and how
living things interact with their environment. Table 4-9 lists the standards most
commonly addressed through the use of the garden.
The final factor examined as a way to explain the intensity of a school garden
was the number and type of garden-related activities students participated in prior to
and while in the garden. Teachers were given a list of fourteen garden-related
activities and asked to “mark all the activities that your students participate in prior to
gardening and while in the garden.” Teachers revealed that the most common
activity students participated in prior to gardening was preparing the garden (92.9%).
This was followed by planning the garden (75.0%) and choosing plants (67.9%). The
activities students participated in the most, while in the garden, were observing,
planting, weeding, and watering (Table 4-10). Since teachers reported that students
often participated in more than one type of activity both prior to and while in the
garden, a sum of the number of activities students participated in was taken. Table 4-
11 reports the number of activities students participated in prior to and while in the
garden. Almost one-third (28.6%) of the teachers indicated that their students
participated in 3 to 8 activities. A little over a third (39.2%) of the teachers marked
that their students participated in 9 to 11 activities, while 32.1% of the teachers
revealed that their students participated in 12 to 14 activities.

119
Table 4-9. Most common science sunshine state standards addressed through
the use of the school garden.
Sunshine State Standard*
n
%
Nature of matter
V
Uses a tool to observe and study minute details of objects.
20
71.4
V
Determines the physical properties of matter using metric measurements
that incorporate tools such as rulers, thermometers, balances.
19
67.9
Energy
✓
Knows that some source of energy is needed for organisms to stay alive
and grow.
27
96.4
Know different forms of energy.
18
64.3
Processes that shape the earth
V
Understands the stages of the water cycle.
26
92.9
y
Knows that reusing, recycling, reducing the use of natural resources
improve and protect the quality of life.
26
92.9
y
Knows that approximately 75% of the surface of the earth is covered by
water.
19
67.9
y
Understands the processes of weathering and erosion.
17
60.7
Earth and space
y
Knows ways natural resources are important.
19
67.9
y
Knows that days and nights change in length throughout the year.
17
60.7
Nature of science
V
Makes predictions and inferences based on observations.
27
96.4
y
Plans and investigates an experiment that defines a problem, proposes a
solution, identifies variables, collects and organizes data, interprets data
in tables, charts and graphs, analyzes information, makes predictions,
presents and supports findings
20
71.4
y
Uses charts and graphs to understand patterns of change.
20
71.4
V
Knows that it is important to keep accurate records and descriptions to
provide information and clues on causes of discrepancies in repeated
experiments.
19
67.9
y
Uses various kinds of instruments to collect and analyze information.
18
64.3
y
Knows that to work collaboratively, all team members should be free to
reach, explain, and justify their own individual conclusions.
Processes of life
✓
Understands similarities and differences among plants.
26
92.9
y
Understands the various ways that animals depend on plants for survival.
24
85.7
y
Understands that although plants and animals are different, they also
share common characteristics.
23
82.1
How living things interact with their environment
y
Understands that energy is transferred to living organisms through the
food they eat.
24
85.7
y
Understands that plants and animals share and compete for limited
resources such as oxygen, water, food, and space.
23
82.1
y
Knows how organisms with similar needs in a climatic region compete
with one another for resources such as food, water, oxygen, or space to
survive in an environment.
20
71.4
y
Understands that scientific information can be presented in several ways.
19
67.9
*Note: teachers could mark more than one standard.
N = 28

120
Table 4-10. Garden-related activities students participated in prior to and while
in the garden.
Activity*
n
Valid
percent
Prior to gardening
Preparing
26
92.9
Planning
21
75.0
Choosing plants
19
67.9
Designing
9
32.1
While gardening
Observing
28
100.0
Planting
27
96.4
Weeding
26
92.9
Watering
25
89.3
Fertilizing
18
64.3
Harvesting
17
60.7
Experimenting
16
57.1
Recording
16
57.1
Sitting
14
50.0
Playing
7
25.0
*Note: teachers could mark more than one activity.
N=28
Table 4-11. The number of garden-related activities students participated in
prior to and while in the garden.
Number of
Activities*
n
Valid
Percent
Mean
SD
Min Max
3
1
3.6
9.9
2.6
3 14
6
1
3.6
7
2
7.1
8
4
14.3
9
6
21.4
10
3
10.7
11
2
7.1
12
4
14.3
13
2
7.1
14
3
10.7
*Note: teachers could mark more than one activity.
N = 28

121
To determine which indicator best explained the intensity of school garden
programs, a series of analysis of variance (ANOVA) tests were run with seven of the
fifteen possible indicators of school garden intensity: (a)number of hours per week
students spend in the garden, (b) number of activities students participate in prior to
and while in the garden, (c)percent of time the garden is used as an instructional tool
in the classroom, (d) number of subject areas into which the garden has been
incorporated, (e) number of years the garden has been a part of the curriculum, (f)
number of sources of information and types of educational materials used to support
the garden in the curriculum, and (g) number of science Sunshine State Standards
addressed through the use of the garden (Table G-l, Appendix G). These seven
indicators were chosen because they provided the best data set with which to
construct possible typologies.
Through a series of ANOVA analyses of these seven factors, the number of
garden-related activities students participated in prior to and while in the garden best
explained the variation in the dependent variables. Bronfenbrenner and Morris’
(1998) ecological model of human development and the notion that activity must take
place for development to occur and this activity must become increasingly complex
supports this finding. Therefore, the number of garden-related activities was used to
establish the intensity of school garden programs. The number of garden-related
activities students participated in ranged from 3 to 14. Frequency statistics and
percentiles for the number of activities students participated in were computed. The
frequencies and percentiles showed that one-third of the students participated in 0 to 8
activities, one-third in 9 to 11 activities, and one-third in 12 to 14 activities (Table 4-

122
11). Following this reduction, intensity was therefore coded such that low intensity
was equal to 0 to 8 activities, medium intensity was equal to 9 to 11 activities, and
high intensity was equal to 12 to 14 activities.
The number of activities factor was combined with garden form (vegetable,
flower, or combination vegetable/flower) to create a typology of school garden types.
This combination resulted in a nine-category typology: (a) low-intensity flower
garden, (b) low-intensity flower 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 signifying a variation
among school gardens by form and intensity (Table 3-3). This typology served as the
main independent variable for data analysis.
The dependent variable scores of responsibility, science attitudes,
environmental attitudes, and garden attitudes were placed within this nine-cell matrix
and a series of analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) tests were run to determine if there
were significant differences among the cells of the typology.
Table 4-12 shows the number and percentage of classes and students in each
of the garden categories. Based on the typological categories it is evident that these
school garden programs varied in intensity. An initial hypothesis of this study was
that students in combination flower/vegetable gardens would have higher scores than
students in vegetable and flower gardens, respectively. Additionally, it was also
hypothesized that students in high intensity gardens would have higher scores than

123
medium and low intensity gardens, respectively. These hypotheses will be explored
for each of the dependent variables.
Table 4-12. Number and percentage of classes and students in the ty pology
matrix.
Intensity
Low
Medium
High
Classes
1 (3.8%)
2 (7.7%)
1 (3.8%)
Vegetable
Students
22 (5.2%)
23 (5.4%)
28 (6.6%)
Garden „.
„ Flower
Form
Classes
2 (7.7%)
5(19.2%)
3 (11.5%)
Students
28 (6.6%)
97 (22.7%)
80(18.7%)
Classes
4(15.4%)
4(15.4%)
4(15.4%)
Combination
Students
43 (10%)
43(10%)
63 (14.8%)
Class N = 26
Student N = 427
Once the typology was established, the mean and standard deviation scores for
each of the indicators thought to contribute to the intensity of school garden programs
vtffere computed for each type of garden (Table 4-13). Students in the medium
intensity flower garden spent the most hours per week in the garden. However, the
high intensity combination garden had the highest mean scores for every other factor:
number of activities students participated in, percent of time the garden was used as
an instructional tool, number of subject areas into which the garden had been
incorporated, number of years the garden had been a part of the curriculum, number
of sources and types of information/educational material used to incorporate the
garden into the curriculum, and the number of science Sunshine State Standards the
garden addressed. Inspection of only the mean scores for each of these factors would

124
indicate that no real trend is evident. The typology, in this case, sorts the data as
expected, but low N in some cells generates responses that are within range of an
increasing trend.
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.
Initially, it was planned to determine whether school garden intensity
contributed to students’ development of four youth developmental assets:
achievement motivation, school engagement, responsibility, and interpersonal
competence. However, after factor analysis of the scales measuring each of these
assets was conducted, the data indicated that only the scale measuring responsibility
could be used reliably. Therefore, the student responses to the responsibility items
were summed and the mean taken to provide a responsibility score. This mean
responsibility score served as the dependent variable.

Table 4-13. Descriptive statistics of possible factors to measure school garden intensity based on
garden type.
TYPES*
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
LV
LF
LC
MV
MF
MC
HV
HF
HC
No. of hours per week students
M=1.0
1.2
1.2
1.5
4.8
1.9
1.0
3.0
1.9
spend in the garden.
SD=0.0
1.8
0.6
0.7
5.9
0.8
0.0
1.7
1.4
Number of activities students
participate in prior to and
while in the garden
M=8.0
SD=0.0
5.5
3.5
7.3
1.0
9.5
0.7
9.2
0.4
10.3
1.0
12.0
0.0
12.0
0.0
13.5
0.6
Percent of time the garden is
used as an instructional tool in
the classroom.
M=5.0
SD=0.0
20.0
0.0
11.4
13.0
15.0
0.0
18.0
18.9
15.8
12.3
5.0
0.0
16.0
14.9
25.0
21.2
No. of subjects areas into
which the garden has been
incorporated.
M=6.0
SD=0.0
3.5
0.7
4.3
1.3
4.5
0.7
4.2
0.8
5.5
1.3
6.0
0.0
6.7
0.0
9.0
0.8
No. of years the garden has
M=2.0
4.0
4.0
2.0
5.4
4.3
5.0
4.7
7.3
been a part of your curriculum.
SD=0.0
4.2
0.0
0.0
3.7
4.0
0.0
2.9
5.9
No. of sources and types of
material used to support the
garden in the curriculum.
O O
o ©
1 Q
S C/3
6.0
1.4
2.5
1.3
8.0
0.0
8.8
3.8
8.3
6.2
4.0
0.0
11.7
2.3
13.8
2.1
No. of Science Sunshine State
Standards addressed through
use of the garden.
M=26.0
SD=0.0
26.5
2.1
16.5
7.6
13.5
0.7
29.8
4.9
29.5
11.6
17.0
0.0
33.0
9.2
41.0
4.7
*L = low intensity, M = medium intensity, H = high intensity, V = vegetable garden, F = flower garden, C = combination garden.
K>

126
Table 4-14 shows that students’ responsibility scores were all high and very
little variation was found. The analysis of responsibility scores is summarized in
Table 4-15. The model including typology, gender, ethnicity, and number of years
the garden had been a part of the curriculum only explained 1.5% of the variation in
responsibility scores. The typology alone explained .34% of the variation in the
scores and was not statistically significant.
Table 4-14. Typology of responsibility scores.1
Intensity
Low
Medium
High
Garden
Vegetable garden
4.42
4.61
4.29
Form
Flower garden
4.59
4.45
4.46
Combination garden
4.42
4.33
4.57
F= 1.448, p=. 175
'Scores ranged from 1 - (low) to 5 - (high)
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 person and social context variables?
Hypothesis: There is a positive relationship between students’ attitudes
toward science and school garden type.
Hypothesis: Students’ attitudes toward science do not differ by gender in the
third grade.

127
Table 4-15. Analysis of responsibility scores - main effects.
Dependent variable
Explained
Cases
Grand Mean
Variance
Responsibility
.43%
427
4.46
Independent
Explained
Level of
Deviation
Deviation
variable
variance
significance
from mean
from mean
Unadjusted
Adjusted
Typology
.34%
.175
1 LV
-.02
-.02
2 LF
+.12
+.12
3 LC
-.02
-.01
4 MV
+.19
+.21
5 MF
-.01
-.01
6 MC
-.13
-.14
7 HV
-.17
-.17
8 HF
.00
-.02
9 HC
+.11
+.10
Gender
>1%
.168
Female
+.03
+.03
Male
-.04
-.04
Ethnic
>1%
.260
White
+.01
+.02
Other
-.02
-.06
Number of years >1% .836
school gardening has
been part of your
curriculum
The third research question posed in this study was whether students’ attitudes
toward science varied based on garden types. Factor analysis of the data indicated
that there were two measures for this variable: attitudes toward science and attitudes
toward the usefulness of science. The responses for each of these measures were
summed and the means taken separately to serve as the dependent variables of
attitudes toward science and attitudes toward the usefulness of science study.

128
The ANCOVA analysis indicated that the differences among the science
attitude scores when placed in the typology were statistically significant (F = 4.222, p
= .000). Inspection of the typology showed that students with the highest science
attitude scores were in medium-intensity vegetable and combination gardens and low-
intensity flower gardens (Table 4-16).
Table 4-16. Typology of attitudes toward science scores.1
Intensity
Low
Medium
High
Garden
Vegetable garden
3.20
4.64
3.50
Form
Flower garden
4.24
3.88
4.12
Combination garden
3.83
4.00
3.91
F = 4.222, p =.000
1 Scores ranged from 1 - (low) to 5 - (high)
Table 4-17 summarizes the analysis for students’ attitudes toward science
scores. The model with the four independent factors explained 3.6% of the variation
in students’ scores. The typology of school garden intensity and form explained 3.5%
of the variation in the scores and was statistically significant. The best predictor of
students’ attitudes toward science was therefore the type of garden in which students
participate versus gender, ethnicity, and the number of years the garden had been a
part of the curriculum.
Since the model was statistically significant, further analyses were run to
explore if there were any interactions present in the model. The interaction of
typology and gender was found to be significant. Table 4-18 shows the scores for
female and male students within the respective typology cells. In all but two cases,
medium-intensity combination garden and high-intensity flower garden, males had

129
higher attitude scores toward science than females. Female and male students in
medium intensity vegetable gardens had the highest science attitude scores. Table 4-
19 shows that the interaction of typology and gender significantly explained some of
the variation in the model.
Table 4-17. Analysis of science attitude scores - main effects.
Dependent variable
Explained
Cases
Grand Mean
Variance
Attitudes toward
3.6 %
427
3.94
science
Independent
Explained
Level of
Deviation
Deviation
variable
variance
significance
from mean
from mean
Unadjusted
Adjusted
Typology
3.5%
.000*
1 LV
-.74
-.74
2 LF
+.30
+.28
3 LC
-.11
-.15
4 MV
+.70
+.62
5 MF
-.06
-.06
6 MC
+.06
+ .07
7 HV
-.44
-.45
8 HF
+.18
+.20
9 HC
-.03
-.02
Gender
>1%
.787
Female
-.02
-.01
Male
+.02
+.01
Ethnic
>1%
.401
White
-.05
-.03
Other
-.13
+.08
Number of years >1% .924
school gardening has
been part of your
curriculum
*p < .001

130
Table 4-18. Typology of attitudes toward science scores based on gender.1
Intensity
Low
Medium
High
Garden
Vegetable garden
F 3.02
M3.42
F4.42
M 4.85
F 3.08
M 4.15
Form
Flower garden
F4.21
M 4.27
F 3.85
M 3.91
F4.37
M 3.82
Combination garden
F3.78
M 3.87
F4.10
M 3.90
F3.86
M 3.95
F= 2.108, p = . 034
'Scores ranged from 1 - (low) to 5 - (high)
The second variable exploring science attitudes measured students’ perceived
usefulness of science study. The ANCOVA test indicated a significant difference
among scores (F = 4.707, p = .000). Inspection of the typology showed that the
highest scores were from students in the medium-intensity vegetable garden. For the
flower and combination gardens, those students in low-intensity gardens had the
highest scores (Table 4-20).
Analysis of these scores is summarized in Table 4-21. The full model
containing the typology, gender, ethnicity, and number of years the garden had been a
part of the curriculum accounted for 3.0% of the variation in the scores. The
typology explained 2.6% of the variation and was statistically significant. The best
predictor of students’ attitudes toward the usefulness of science study was the
typology of garden intensity and form.

131
Table 4-19. Analysis of science attitude scores - interactions.
Dependent variable
Explained
Cases
Grand Mean
Variance
Attitudes toward
3.6%
427
3.94
science
Independent
Explained
Level of
Deviation
Deviation
variable
variance
significance
from mean
from mean
Unadjusted
Adjusted
Typology
3.5%
.000*
1 LV
-.74
-.74
2 LF
+.30
+.28
3 LC
-.11
-.15
4 MV
+.70
+.62
5 MF
-.06
-.06
6 MC
+.06
+ .07
7 HV
-.44
-.45
8 HF
+.18
+.20
9 HC
-.03
- .02
Gender
>1%
.785
Female
-.02
-.01
Male
+.02
+.01
Ethnic
>1%
.397
White
-.05
-.03
Other
-.13
+.08
Number of years >1% .923
school gardening has
been part of your
curriculum
Interaction
typology* gender
1.7%
.034**
Interaction
typology*ethnic
.9%
.358
*/?<.001 **p< .05
Since the model was statistically significant, further analyses were run to test
for interactions. As with attitudes toward science, an interaction of the typology and

132
gender was found to be statistically significant (Table 4-22). Both females (M= 4.56)
and males (M= 4.08) in medium-intensity vegetable gardens had the highest scores
for the usefulness of science study. Females and males participating in flower
gardens had different scores based on the intensity of the garden. Females scored
highest if they were in a high-intensity flower garden, compared with males who
scored highest if they were in a low-intensity flower garden. Combination gardens
produced the same scoring pattern with females and males.
Table 4-20. Typology of attitudes toward the usefulness of science study
scores.1
Intensity
Low
Medium
High
Garden
Vegetable garden
3.39
4.31
3.08
Form
Flower garden
3.96
3.84
3.82
Combination garden
3.76
3.58
3.72
F = 4.707, p = . 000
'Scores ranged from 1 - (low) to 5 - (high)
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 person and social context variables?
Hypothesis: There is a positive relationship between students’ attitudes
toward the environment and school garden type.
Hypothesis: Students’ attitudes toward the environment do not differ by
gender in the third grade.

133
Table 4-21. Analysis of usefulness of science study attitude scores - main effects.
Dependent variable Explained Cases Grand Mean
Variance
Attitudes toward the 3.0% 427 3.75
usefulness of science
study
Independent
Explained
Level of
Deviation
Deviation
variable
variance
significance
from mean
from mean
Unadjusted
Adjusted
Typology
2.6%
.000*
1 LV
-.35
-.43
2 LF
+.22
+.19
3 LC
+.01
-.08
4 MV
+.57
+.33
5 MF
+.10
+.11
6 MC
-.16
-.13
7 HV
-.66
-.70
8 HF
+.07
+.13
9 HC
-.02
+.07
Gender
.2%
.121
Female
+.06
+.06
Male
-.06
-.06
Ethnic
.2%
.085
White
-.06
-.06
Other
+.17
+.16
Number of years
.3%
.055
school gardening has
been part of your
curriculum
< .001
The fourth goal of this research study was to examine the environmental
attitudes of students and whether they differed in relation to school garden intensity
and form. Initial analysis of the environmental attitude scores is presented in Table 4-
24 and shows that all scores are high and no significant differences among scores
exists. The full model explains only .3% of the variation in environmental attitude

scores and was not statistically significant (Table 4-25). In fact, none of the
independent factors significantly explained the variation in scores.
134
Table 4-22. Typology of attitudes toward usefulness of science study scores'
based on gender.
Intensity
Low
Medium
High
Garden
Vegetable garden
F 3.33
M 3.46
F 4.56
M 4.08
F2.78
M 3.55
Form
Flower garden
F 3.92
M 4.02
F 3.83
M 3.85
F 4.01
M 3.60
Combination garden
F 3.72
M 3.79
F 3.79
M 3.39
F 3.93
M 3.56
F = 2.039, p = .041
1 Scores ranged from 1 - (low) to 5 - (high)
Research Question 5
5.1 In what ways do students’ attitudes toward school gardens differ
depending on school garden type?
The final variable of interest in this study was how students’ attitudes toward
the garden varied with respect to garden intensity and form. Table 4-26 depicts the
typology of garden attitudes. The highest garden attitude scores were from students
in high-intensity flower and combination gardens and in the medium-intensity flower
gardens. The difference among garden attitude scores was found to be statistically
significant (F= 10.066,p = .000). Analysis of the garden attitude scores showed that
in addition to the typology, gender and ethnicity also significantly explained the
variation in scores. The overall mean score for females was 4.29 and 4.02 for males.

135
The mean score for white students was 4.13, while non-white students had a mean
score of 4.27.
Table 4-23. Analysis of usefulness of science study attitude scores - interactions.
Dependent variable Explained Cases Grand Mean
Variance
Attitudes toward the 5.3% 427 3.75
usefulness of science
study
Independent
Explained
Level of
Deviation
Deviation
variable
variance
significance
from mean
from mean
Unadjusted
Adjusted
Typology
2.6%
.000*
1 LV
-.35
-.43
2 LF
+.22
+.19
3 LC
+.01
-.08
4 MV
+.57
+.33
5 MF
+.10
+.11
6 MC
-.16
-.13
7 HV
-.66
-.70
8 HF
+.07
+.13
9 HC
-.02
+.07
Gender
.2%
.115
Female
+.06
+.06
Male
-.06
-.06
Ethnic
.2%
.080
White
-.06
-.06
Other
+.17
+.16
Number of years
school gardening has
been part of your
curriculum
.3%
.051
Interaction
typology*gender
1.1%
.041**
Interaction
typology* ethnic
1.0%
.065
*/?<.001 **p<. 05

136
Table 4-24. Typology of environmental attitudes.1
Intensity
Low
Medium
High
Garden
Vegetable garden
4.83
4.72
4.68
Form
Flower garden
4.85
4.85
4.83
Combination garden
4.88
4.67
4.77
F= 1.518,/? = .149
'Scores ranged from 1 - (low) to 5 - (high)
Table 4-25. Analysis of environmental attitude scores
- main effects.
Dependent variable
Explained
Cases
Grand Mean
Variance
Attitudes toward the
.3%
427
4.80
environment
Independent
Explained
Level of
Deviation
Deviation
variable
variance
significance
from mean
from mean
Unadjusted
Adjusted
Typology
.2%
.149
1 LV
+.02
- .02
2 LF
+.05
+.05
3 LC
+.08
+.08
4 MV
- .08
-.09
5 MF
+.05
+.05
6 MC
-.13
-.14
7 HV
-.12
-.13
8 HF
+.03
+.03
9 HC
-.03
-.02
Gender
>1%
.242
Female
+.02
+.02
Male
-.03
-.02
Ethnic
>1%
.144
White
+.02
+.01
Other
-.05
- .04
Number of years
school gardening has
been part of your
curriculum
>1%
.057

137
Table 4-26. Typology of attitudes toward the garden.1
Intensity
Low
Medium
High
Garden
Vegetable garden
3.81
4.48
2.80
Form
Flower garden
4.16
4.24
4.25
Combination garden
4.07
4.28
4.57
F= 10.066,/) = .000
'Scores ranged from 1 - (low) to 5 - (high)
Further analysis of garden attitude scores is reported in Table 4-27. The full
model was successful in explaining 8.6% of the variation in garden attitude scores.
The typology of garden types significantly explained 7.0% of the variation.
Additionally, gender significantly explained 1.2% of the variation as did ethnicity,
significantly explaining .4% of the variation. The typology variable, however was the
best predictor of students’ attitudes toward the garden versus the variables of gender,
ethnicity, and number of years the garden had been a part of the curriculum.
Since the model was statistically significant, a further analysis was run to
determine if there were any significant interactions present. Table 4-28 shows that
the interactions were not statistically significant.
In summary, descriptive statistics showed that teachers were using school
gardens in many different ways and to varying degrees. Typological construction
using garden form and garden intensity produced a nine-cell matrix that served as the
independent variable. ANCOVA analysis of the dependent variables of responsibility
and student attitudes toward science, the usefulness of science study, the
environment, and the garden were conducted to determine if there were significant
differences among garden types. Significant differences were found among garden
type and attitudes toward science, the usefulness of science, and garden attitudes. No

138
differences were found among garden type and students’ sense of responsibility and
their environmental attitudes. This was due to high scores for each garden type and
little variation among these high scores.
Table 4-27. Analysis of garden attitude scores - main effects.
Dependent variable
Explained
Cases
Grand Mean
Variance
Attitudes toward the
8.6 %
427
4.17
garden
Independent
Explained
Level of
Deviation
Deviation
variable
variance
significance
from mean
from mean
Unadjusted
Adjusted
Typology
7.0%
.000*
1 LV
-.36
-.39
2 LF
-.02
-.06
3 LC
-.10
-.17
4 MV
+.31
+.10
5 MF
+.07
+.07
6 MC
+.12
-.17
7 HV
-1.37
-1.43
8 HF
+.08
+.14
9 HC
+.41
+.49
Gender
1.2%
.000*
Female
+.13
+.16
Male
-.15
-.17
Ethnic
.4%
.043**
White
-.04
-.07
Other
+.10
+.19
Number of years
> 1%
.382
school gardening has
been part of your
curriculum
*p<.001 **p< .05

139
Table 4-28. Analysis of garden attitude scores - interactions.
Dependent variable
Explained
Cases
Grand Mean
Variance
Attitudes toward the
10.4%
427
4.17
garden
Independent
Explained
Level of
Deviation
Deviation
variable
variance
significance
from mean
from mean
Unadjusted
Adjusted
Typology
7.0%
.000*
1 LV
-.36
-.39
2 LF
-.02
-.06
3 LC
-.10
-.17
4 MV
+.31
+.10
5 MF
+.07
+.07
6 MC
+.12
-.17
7 HV
-1.37
-1.43
8 HF
+.08
+.14
9 HC
+.41
+.49
Gender
1.2%
.000
Female
+.13
+.16
Male
-.15
-.17
Ethnic
.4%
.042
White
-.04
-.07
Other
+.10
+.19
Number of years
school gardening has
been part of your
curriculum
>1%
.379
Interaction
typology*gender
1.2%
.085
Interaction
.7%
.424
typology*ethnic
*/?<.001 **¿><.05

CHAPTER 5
DISCUSSION
Study Summary
Several youth development theories (cognitive, social cognitive, and
ecological) provided the theoretical framework for a study of school gardens and their
impact on youth. Current uses of school gardens by teachers were investigated. A
teacher questionnaire was developed to gain insight into how teachers used 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 incorporated
school garden intensity based on the number of garden-related activities students
participated in prior to and while in the garden and school garden form: flower,
vegetable or combination flower/vegetable.
Elements of positive youth development: youth developmental assets
(achievement motivation, school engagement, responsibility, and interpersonal
competence) and attitudes toward science, the environment, and the garden of 427
third-grade students were examined. These elements were examined in relation to
school garden intensity and form. Gender, ethnicity, and the number of years the
garden had been a part of curriculum were other variables examined for their
relationship to the positive youth development elements.
To investigate the elements of positive youth development, a student survey
was created by combining several indices. Search Institute’s Profiles of Student Life:
140

141
Attitudes and Behaviors (Scales & Leffert, 1997) for sixth- to twelfth-grade students
was modified for use with elementary-age students to measure the youth
developmental assets. The University of Iowa’s Attitudes, Preferences, and
Understandings (1988) index was used to measure students’ attitudes toward science.
Based on questions found in the Attitudes, Preferences, and Understandings index,
five questions related to students’ attitudes toward the garden were created. Two
environmental attitude indices, the Children’s Environmental Response Inventory
(Bunting & Cousins, 1985) and Jaus’ (1984) environmental attitude scale were
combined to measure students’ environmental attitudes.
Factor analysis of these indices revealed that for the youth developmental
assets, only the scale measuring responsibility could be used reliably. Additionally,
factor analysis revealed two scales measuring science attitudes: attitudes toward
science and attitudes toward the usefulness of science that could be used reliably.
Factor analysis also showed that only the questions dealing with caring for the
environment could be used reliably. All questions measuring students’ attitudes
toward the garden could be used reliably.
Five research questions and hypotheses were investigated. Descriptive
statistics were used to summarize how and to what degree teachers used school
gardens. Examination of these statistics showed that teachers used school gardens
differently and to varying degrees. This variation among gardens was simplified into
a multi-level framework or typology of high, medium, and low intensity based on the
number of garden-related activities students participated in prior to and while in the
garden and the form of school gardens (flower, vegetable, or combination

142
flower/vegetable). This typology consisted of nine types of gardens: (1) low-intensity
flower garden, (2) low-intensity flower garden, (3) low-intensity combination garden,
(4) medium-intensity vegetable garden, (5) medium-intensity flower garden, (6)
medium-intensity combination garden, (7) high-intensity vegetable garden, (8) high-
intensity flower garden, and (9) high-intensity combination garden. Analysis of
covariance were used to determine if there were significant differences among the
nine types of school gardens. Significant differences were found among school
garden types and students’ attitudes toward science, attitudes toward the usefulness of
science study, and garden attitudes. While there were no significant differences
among school garden types and students’ responsibility and environmental attitude
scores, scores for each of these elements were very high (indicating a sense of
responsibility and a positive environmental attitude) with little variation. Although
the typology of school gardens significantly explained the variation in students’
science attitude and garden attitude scores, it did not account for a large percentage of
the variance in attitude scores.
Purposes of This Study
An examination of how teachers are using school gardens was a primary focus
of this study. Previous studies have examined school gardens and their impact on
students, but all have done so within an experimental setting, that is studies have
looked at the effects of a given school garden program and/or curriculum on students.
To date, no research endeavor has explored how teachers use school gardens without
the influence of a specified program and/or curriculum. Therefore, this study
represented a beginning effort to describe how teachers use school gardens and what

143
affect these gardens have on the students participating in such garden programs.
Specifically, this study was designed to accomplish the following goals:
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 factor(s) 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.
This chapter discusses the results found as they related to these purposes. The
specific research questions and hypotheses examined will be summarized.
Implications for theory, research, and practice will also be considered. Limitations of
the study will be discussed. Finally, there will be a discussion of the contributions of
this study.

144
Discussion of Findings
Research Question 1
1.1 How and to what degree are teachers using school gardens?
To determine how and to what degree teachers are using school gardens,
teachers were asked to complete a questionnaire addressing several indicators thought
to contribute to the intensity of a school garden program (Table 3-3). Teachers’
responses to this questionnaire revealed that there were indeed varying degrees of
garden use, both with students and in the curriculum.
About half of the teachers and their students used the garden only one hour a
week (Table 4-1). The other half of the teachers and students used the garden from 2
to 15 hours a week. In addition to time spent in the garden, a little over half of the
teachers surveyed only incorporated the garden into their curriculum 10% or less of
the time (Table 4-2).
All teachers were using the garden to teach science (Table 4-3). Almost half
of the teachers indicated that the garden helped address 26 to 46 (out of 46 possible)
science Sunshine State Standards. Many of these standards address concepts cited by
educators that could be met through the use of the garden: problem solving, observing
and predicting skills, life cycles, habitats, weather, and plants (Gywnn, 1988; Nelson,
1988; Oehring, 1993; Stetson, 1991). This finding supports educators’ assertion that
gardens assist in academic learning.
A majority of the teachers were also using the garden to teach math (92.9%)
and environmental education (67.9%, Table 4-3). Environmental education has been
found to be a common subject addressed through the use of the garden (DeMarco,

145
1999; Sheffield, 1992; Skelly & Bradley, 2000). Teachers also were using the garden
to help teach language arts (64.3%), health and nutrition (64.3%), ethics
(responsibility and nurturing) (57.1%), social studies (32.1%), history (21.4%), music
(21.4%), and physical education (14.3%, Table 4-3). These percentages indicate that
Hemenway’s (1903) argument that a garden can be used to teach practically every
subject taught in the classroom is supported. The findings of Wotowiec (1975) that
students and parents did not believe that the garden program being used by Cleveland
Public Schools promoted practical application of academic skills and knowledge is
sharply contrasted by this study’s and others (DeMarco, 1999; Sheffield, 1992; Skelly
& Bradley, 2000) that teachers are using a school garden to teach essentially every
classroom subject.
Most gardens being used by teachers had been a part of their curriculum from
1 to 3 years (Table 4-4). Two-thirds of the gardens in use were 150ft2 or less in size.
The most common type of garden set-up used by teachers was a classroom garden. A
few teachers were using large group (6-10 students) and small group (2-5 students)
gardens. A majority of the teachers did indicate that they put their students in
teams/groups to work on garden-related assignments/activities. When asked how
their students utilized the end product of their garden, most reported that their
students observed the end product. Sharing, eating, and recording were mentioned by
over half of the teachers as ways of using the end product. Donating and displaying
the end product were two other ways of utilizing the garden by a few teachers.
Sharing and donating products of the garden with others is thought by several

146
educators (Barron, 1993; Canaris, 1995) to foster a sense of community
connectedness.
DeMarco (1999) found that adequate volunteer help is one of the most
important factors, cited by teachers, for a successful garden. The form of volunteer
help used by almost all teachers in this study came from parents (Table 4-5). A few
were using agriculture education members or older students at their school. Teachers
in DeMarco’s study also reported that parents and older students were the most
accessible and engaged sources of volunteer help. A majority of teachers in this
study were utilizing only two to three forms of help. Very few teachers received help
from Master Gardeners, garden club members, senior citizens, members of 4-H, or
high school and university students (Table 4-5).
Personal knowledge was cited by all but two teachers as the source of
information for incorporating the garden into their curriculum (Table 4-6). This is
congruent with DeMarco’s (1999) finding that teachers’ own gardening knowledge is
an important factor affecting the success of the garden. Friends and volunteers were
sources of information for three-quarters of the teachers in this study. A third of the
teachers were getting information from the County Extension office and education
joumals/publications. Less than half of the teachers surveyed used teacher in-service
training, 4-H education materials, or the National Gardening Association’s
Growlab/Growing ideas newsletter as sources of information. None of the teachers
received information from Lifelab or Master Gardener Training.
In relation to the sources of information, teachers were asked about the types
of educational materials they used to support the use of the garden in their

147
curriculum. Overwhelmingly, most used library books and/or garden magazines or
catalogs (Table 4-7). Half of the teachers were using personal books, trade books,
textbooks, experiments and/or videos as educational materials. A few used
newspapers, computer software, and/or filmstrips.
These findings indicate that, while teachers are using gardens and
incorporating them into their classrooms, most are doing so with few sources of
information and very little help from others. This lack of information and help may
be due to teachers’ insufficient knowledge of where to find information and who or
what groups to look to for help. A great deal of information exists for teachers
wishing to use school gardens both at a local level (e.g. County extension office) as
well as at a national level (e.g. National Gardening Association’s Growing Ideas
newsletter). Teachers may be unaware of these sources of information and therefore
not using them. Alexander et al. (1995) and DeMarco (1999) reported that teachers
found Master Gardeners to be extremely helpful both in horticultural/gardening
knowledge, but also in helping to reduce the teacher to student ratio. However, few
teachers in this study were using Master Gardeners to help in their gardens. Other
organizations such as garden clubs and 4-H are also useful in helping teachers and
students in their gardens, but are under utilized.
From this information gathered from teachers, it is very apparent that teachers
using school gardens do so in very different ways. While there are common elements
found among teachers using gardens, the practice is very diverse. One of the goals of
this study was to ascertain if diversity existed and if so, how could such diversity be
classified in a way that would allow for a comparison of garden benefits to students.

148
One method thought to aid in the classification of school gardens was to determine
the intensity of a school garden program.
1.2 What factors contribute to the intensity of a school garden program?
All of the factors addressed in research question 1.1 were thought to be
possible contributors to the intensity of a school garden program. Of these, only one
was used to calculate the intensity of a school garden program, the number of garden-
related activities students participated in prior to and while in the garden. This
indicator of intensity was chosen for several reasons: (a) it was based in theory, that
is, Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) theory of the proximal processes of development stating
that activity must take place for development to occur and this activity must take
place over time and become increasingly more complex, and (b) analyses showed this
factor to explain the most amount of variation in scores.
Activities students participated in before gardening included: preparing,
planning, choosing plants, and designing the garden. Activities students participated
in while in the garden included observing, planting, weeding, watering, fertilizing,
harvesting, experimenting, recording, sitting, and playing. A total of fourteen
activities were possible. Analysis of the data indicated three levels of intensity: low
(0 to 8 activities), medium (9 to 11 activities), and high (12 to 14 activities).
1.3 Do school gardens vary in intensity and form?
School garden intensity as determined by the number of garden-related
activities students participate in prior to and while in the garden was found to vary

149
among schools. Teachers were also asked to disclose the form of garden they and
their students were using. The three forms being utilized by teachers were flower
gardens, vegetable gardens, or a combination of flower and vegetable gardens.
Garden intensity and form were combined to create a nine-cell typology that
classified gardens by intensity and form. Each cell of the typology constituted a
conceptual type of gardens: (a) low-intensity vegetable garden, (b) low-intensity
flower 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. Each of these types of gardens was represented
by at least one class participating in this study, indicating a variation of school
gardens by intensity and form. These nine types served as the basis of analysis for
exploring the impact of school gardens on elements of positive youth development.
Once the typology had been constructed using the number of garden-related
activities and garden form, the mean scores for all other possible indicators of
intensity were examined for each of the garden types in the typology. Although
intensity was based on the number of garden-related activities students participated
in, high intensity combination gardens had the highest means for every other indicator
except for the number of hours students spent in the garden. Students in medium
intensity flower gardens spent the most hours in the garden. While it was thought
that these factors might offer some explanation as to the differences in garden type
and students’ sense of responsibility and attitudes toward science, the environment,
and the garden, no other trend was apparent.

150
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.
While this study intended to examine the youth developmental assets of
achievement motivation, school engagement, responsibility, and interpersonal
competence, due to measurement issues, only the asset of responsibility was
examined. The mean responsibility score for each type of garden ranged from 4.33 to
4.61 (out of a high score of 5). These high scores indicate that all students, regardless
of garden type, possessed the asset of responsibility. With scores ranging so high,
very little variation existed and therefore no significant differences among garden
types were found. The hypothesis that there is a positive relationship between the
number of youth developmental assets (responsibility) students’ possess and school
garden type was rejected.
This finding that students in all types of gardens possess a sense of
responsibility does concur with educators’ contention that the garden gives students a
sense of responsibility (Canaris, 1995; Gwynn, 1988, Montessori, 1912). This may
be due to teachers using the garden to teach responsibility. Approximately half

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(57.1%) of the teachers in this study were using the garden to help teach ethics -
responsibility and nurturing. However, until a comparative study of gardening
students and non-gardening students is conducted, it is cautioned against inferring
that the school garden is the reason for students’ high sense of responsibility.
Since the indices measuring achievement motivation, school engagement, and
interpersonal competence were unreliable, it is unknown how gardens may have
impacted these variables. Previous studies, however, have found no significant
differences in self-esteem, attitudes toward school (Sheffield, 1992; Waliczek, 1997),
and interpersonal relationships (Waliczek, 1997) of students in gardening programs
versus non-gardening programs.
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 person and social context variables?
Hypothesis: There is a positive relationship between students’ attitudes
toward science and school garden type.
Hypothesis: Students’ attitudes toward science do not differ by gender in the
third grade.
In a study carried out by Skelly and Bradley (2000), researchers found that
most elementary teachers in Florida were using school gardens to teach science.
Yager and McCormack (1989) posited that science education should begin with

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applications and connections to the real world. Understanding how science relates to
the real world helps students realize the need to study the processes and information
that pertain to science. Additionally, several researchers contend that if students are
to become interested in science and to continue taking more science courses, they
must have positive attitudes toward science and these attitudes should be in place at
an early age (Catsambis, 1995; Farenga & Joyce, 1997; Simpson & Oliver, 1990;
Yager & McCormack, 1985; Yager & Yager, 1989). Farenga and Joyce (1997)
suggest several ways science can be taught in a manner that stimulates interest and to
promote positive science attitudes: teach out of the classroom, in an informal manner,
and through hands-on and inquiry-based activities. Each of these methods of
teaching science can, in theory, be achieved with school gardens. Therefore, the
science attitudes of students participating in school gardens were examined.
Factor analysis of the data indicated two measures of science attitudes:
attitudes toward science (science is fun, exciting, boring, likeable) and attitudes
toward the usefulness of science study (learning, using, testing). Attitudes toward
science were examined first. The ANCOVA analysis indicated that there were
significant differences among students’ attitudes toward science depending on the
type of garden in which they participated. Students with the most positive attitudes
toward science participated in medium intensity vegetable gardens. Students in low
intensity flower gardens and medium intensity combination gardens also had positive
attitudes toward science. Overall, students in all types of gardens had positive
attitudes toward science. Yager and Yager’s (1985) study showing that more than
half the third grade students in their study reported their science classes as exciting,

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fun, and interesting supports this finding. No discemable trend was present in
relation to the type of school gardens students participated in and their attitudes
toward science.
With regard to how students’ science attitudes differed based on their gender
and ethnicity, the type of garden students participated in was the best predictor of
their attitudes. Alone, gender and ethnicity did not significantly explain the variation
in attitude scores. Further analysis of the data did, however, indicate a significant
interaction between garden type and gender. Males in all but two of the garden types
had higher science attitude scores than females. This is consistent with research
findings that males typically have more positive science attitudes than females
(American Association of University Women [AAUW], 1992; Farenga & Joyce,
1998; Linn & Hyde, 1989; Oakes, 1990). Females with the most positive attitudes
toward science participated in medium intensity vegetable gardens, high and low
intensity flower gardens, and medium intensity combination gardens. Again, no
noticeable trend was present concerning the variables of garden type and gender as
they pertain to science attitudes.
The second measure of science attitudes investigated students’ attitudes
toward the usefulness of science study. The analysis of covariance tests showed a
significant difference among the types of school gardens and students’ attitudes.
Once again, students in the medium-intensity vegetable garden had the most positive
attitudes toward the usefulness of science study. Students in low- and medium-
intensity had the next highest scores measuring attitude. There was no apparent trend
in students’ attitudes and garden type. One interesting finding, however, was that, in

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general, students’ attitudes toward the usefulness of science study were less positive
than their attitudes toward science. Yager and Yager (1985) suggest that the school
imparts the perception of the usefulness of science study. Perhaps, teachers are
imparting this perception to students in varying degrees, thus accounting for the lower
scores of this attitude measure.
The person variables of gender and ethnicity were not significant in
explaining the variation among usefulness scores, however the interaction between
garden type and gender was again significant. Scores for this measure were not as
divergent for male and females as they were with students’ attitudes toward science.
Females and males in medium intensity vegetable gardens had the most positive
attitudes toward the usefulness of science study. One interesting trend observed was
that females in high intensity flower and combination gardens had the most positive
attitudes, while males in low intensity flower and combination garden had the most
positive attitudes. No other trend was observed with regard to garden type and
typology.
The hypothesis that there is a positive relationship among students’ attitudes
toward science and the usefulness of science study and school garden type was
rejected as this trend was not observed. The hypothesis that students’ attitudes
toward science and usefulness of science study differ based on a variety of person and
social context variables were accepted since differences in gender were observed. A
plausible reason for the significant differences in science attitude scores and garden
type is that, according to Simpson and Oliver (1980), the school, and more
specifically, the classroom, has the strongest influence on students’ attitudes toward

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science. Teaching styles, classroom activities, and school/class environment may all
contribute to these differences among garden types. Additional information about the
school and classroom is needed to further explain the observed variation. While there
was significant variation among students’ attitudes toward science and the usefulness
of science study and the type of garden in which they participated, it should be noted
that students in all types of gardens had relatively positive attitudes toward science
and its study. Positive science attitudes play a crucial role in determining whether
students pursue future courses and interests in science. Simpson and Oliver (1980)
found that if students enter middle or intermediate school with positive attitudes
toward science they are more likely to continue taking science courses and be
successful in these courses. School gardens can be places where science is made fun
and interesting. School gardens are also places where inquiry-based learning can take
place, learning is achieved through in an informal manner, and where science can be
taught outside of the classroom. These are all suggestions for ways to teach science
so that it stimulates interest and promotes positive science attitudes (Farenga & Joyce,
1997).
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 person and social context variables?
Hypothesis: There is a positive relationship between students’ attitudes
toward the environment and school garden type.

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Hypothesis: Students’ attitudes toward the environment do not differ by
gender in the third grade.
The environmental attitude questions that were found to be reliable measured
students’ attitudes toward caring for the environment and recycling. The ANCOVA
analysis revealed no significant differences among garden type and students’ attitudes
toward the environment. The reason for this finding is that students’ attitudes were
all very positive regarding the environment. Students’ mean scores in all garden
types ranged from 4.67 to 4.88 (out of a high score of 5), showing very little variation
in scores. This finding is consistent with previous studies, which showed that school
gardens can promote positive environmental attitudes in students that participate in
the gardens (Skelly, 1997; Waliczek, 1997). The ability of school gardens to promote
positive environmental attitudes in students may be due to the fact that a large
majority of the teachers (67.9%) used their gardens to teach environmental education.
Research has found that environmental education programs promote positive
environmental attitudes in students (Bradley et al., 1997; Bryant & Hungerford, 1977;
Dresner & Gill, 1994; Jaus, 1982, 1984; Ramsey & Rickson, 1976). Jaus (1984)
found that programs with only two hours of instruction were effective in developing
positive environmental attitudes in third grade students.
Since there were no significant differences found among the type of garden
students participated in and their environmental attitudes, the hypothesis that there is
a positive relationship among students’ attitudes toward the environment and school
garden type was rejected. On the other hand, the hypothesis that students’ attitudes
toward the environment do not differ by gender in the third grade was accepted.

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Although there were no significant differences in students’ environmental attitudes
and garden type, the finding that all students had positive attitudes supports
educators’ claims that school gardens are ideal places to teach and foster
environmental awareness (Canaris, 1995; Chawla, 1994; Gwynn, 1988; Pivnick,
1994; Stetson, 1991).
Research Question 5
5.1 In what ways do students’ attitudes toward school gardens differ
depending on school garden type?
Another goal of this research study was to find out how students participating
in school gardens felt about school gardens. Student responses to five questions
measuring students’ attitudes toward the garden (whether students the garden helped
them learn new things, made them want to learn more, made learning fun, as well as
being fun and exciting) were examined. Analysis indicated that students’ attitudes
did differ significantly depending on garden type. Scores ranged from 2.80 to 4.57
(out of a high score of 5). Students with the most positive garden attitudes
participated in high-intensity flower and combination gardens, as well as medium-
intensity vegetable gardens. The lowest attitudes toward the garden were for students
participating in high-intensity vegetable gardens. It should be noted, however, that
students in the high-intensity vegetable garden were from one class and their
particular garden experiences may have negatively influenced their garden attitudes.
Based on the observed trend that as intensity increased, students’ garden attitudes
increased (became more positive), it is unlikely that this one class is representative of
the high-intensity vegetable garden experience. This trend indicates that the number

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of garden-related activities students participated in prior to and while in the garden
positively influenced their attitudes toward the garden.
Educators as well as researchers have cited enjoyment of the garden as an
outcome of school gardening programs. How much students enjoy the garden is
usually one of the first benefits mentioned by educators (Canaris, 1995; Gwynn,
1988; Stetson, 1991). Other benefits discussed by teachers are how the garden makes
learning fun (Stetson, 1991) and exciting (Gwynn, 1988). Inspection of student
responses to the garden attitude questions reveals that these benefits are tangible.
Almost all of the students (83%) felt working in the garden was fun always or most of
the time. Approximately three-quarters of the students reported that working in the
garden was exciting (77.5%) and that the garden made learning fun (76.9%).
Researchers (Barker, 1992; Kononshima, 1995) have also found that students in their
studies liked and enjoyed working in the garden.
Analysis of the data also showed that gender significantly explained the
variation in garden attitude scores. Females had significantly higher scores than
males, indicating that females’ attitudes toward the garden were more positive.
Ethnicity also significantly explained variation in students’ attitudes toward the
garden. Non-white students scored higher than white students, suggesting that non¬
white students had a more positive attitude toward the garden. The interactions
among garden type and gender and garden type and ethnicity did not significantly
explain the variation in scores.

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In summary, examination of the teacher data shows that teachers were using
gardens differently and to varying degrees. These differences were found among
gardens at different schools, but also among gardens at the same school.
Investigation of student data showed that students in all types of gardens had high
responsibility scores, indicating that students in all types of gardens possessed the
youth developmental asset of responsibility. Similarly, students’ environmental
attitudes were all high, indicating that students in all types of gardens had positive
environmental attitudes. Significant differences were found among garden type and
students’ attitudes toward science, their attitudes toward the usefulness of science,
and their attitudes toward the garden. In general, while there were significant
differences among garden type and these attitudes, most students’ attitudes were
positive. These findings indicate that variation among school gardens do exist and
need to be identified before comparative studies of garden programs and non-garden
programs commenced.
Although trends indicating that students’ sense of responsibility and attitudes
toward science, the environment, and the garden differed due to garden type were
absent, several significant differences among garden types and attitudes were
observed. This study was founded in the predominant theories of cognitive, social
cognitive, and ecological development. The key concepts of these theories call for an
examination of the school garden as a place for social interaction, as an environment,
and as a microsystem environment where development may occur. To explore the
garden in these ways, numerous questions were asked about the garden and its place
in classroom curriculum. Teachers in this study reported that the garden was indeed a

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place for social interaction among the students, their teachers, peers, parents and other
adults. Additionally, teachers revealed that the garden was an environment in which
students learned, interacted with others, and had and shared hands-on experiences.
The processes that occur within this environment are important according to
ecological theory (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 1998). Proximal processes are
necessary for development to occur. Analyses of the data collected from teachers and
students showed that these necessary components of development varied along with
school garden type. However, classroom data as it pertained to the garden experience
was all that was collected and therefore it is impossible to know what other factors
may have contributed to the observed differences. Additional information about
classroom practices, teaching styles, and other outside influences is needed to more
fully understand the influence of the garden on students.
Limitations of the Study
The limitations of this study deal with the participant group. The group of
teachers and students that participated in this study was purposively selected. Only
teachers participating in the Florida School Garden Competition or Project SOAR
were asked to participate. Therefore, the results of this study can only be generalized
to these teachers and students and not to teachers and students throughout the world.
Additionally, the analyses of this study were limited by the small number of teachers
participating (N=28). Although 448 students participated, the true N for this study
was the number of teachers, or more specifically the number of classes composing
each type of garden. In some cases, a few types of gardens were represented by only

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one class of students, therefore not providing a true representation of that garden type.
More classes using school gardens need to be studied so that the results become more
generalizable. The measurement tools used also limited this study. Only one of the
four assets under investigation was examined due to an inadequate index.
Additionally, the index measuring environmental attitudes was limiting in regards to
the type of environmental attitudes measured. Additional information was needed
regarding educators’ teaching styles, classroom practices, and attitudes to determine
the role of the garden on the dependent variables. Regardless of the limitations, this
study was exploratory and provided some important results. To date, this study is the
only study that examines a school garden within the theoretical framework of
cognitive, social cognitive, and ecological development theories.
Implications
Three types of implications of this study are discussed in the following
section: (a) implications for theory, (b) implications for future research, and (c)
implications for practice.
Implications for Theory
This research began with the idea that the cognitive theory of Piaget (Good &
Brophy, 1995; Meece, 1997; Woolfork, 1998), the social cognitive theories of
Vygotsky (Gage & Berliner, 1988; Meece, 1997; Woolfork, 1998) and Bandura,
(Bandura, 1986; Woolfork, 1986) and the ecological theory of human development
(Bronfenbrenner, 1979, 1988, 1993; Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 1998; Garbarino,

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1982) were compatible. A combination of these theories provided the framework for
examining elements of positive youth development in the context of a school garden
program. A review of these theories, their key concepts, limitations, and
compatibilities was presented in Chapter 1.
implications related to cognitive theory
This study revealed that teachers are indeed using the garden as an
instructional tool in their classroom. Many of them are using the garden in ways that
are based on constructivist, discovery, inquiry, and problem-solving teaching
practices. These teaching methods are derived from Piaget’s theory of cognitive
development. Piaget contended that children cannot simply have information and
knowledge transmitted to them; they must act on the information and manipulate it so
that it makes sense to them (Meece, 1997). To allow for this active involvement, the
National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has prescribed
guidelines calling for classrooms that “allow for problem solving, hands-on
experimentation, concept development, logical reasoning, and authentic learning”
(Meece, 1997, p. 117). Teachers, in this study, were using their gardens to teach a
wide variety of subjects and address many of the science state standards. Inspection
of the standards being addressed with the garden shows that teachers were using the
garden in ways called for by the NAEYC.
Implications related to sociocultural theory and social cognitive theory
Vygotsky sociocultural theory and Bandura’s theory of social cognitive
development proved useful when developing the theoretical framework for this study.

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The classroom, and more specifically, the garden are environments in which students
interact with one another, their teacher, older students, parents, and other adults.
According to social cognitive theory, these interactions play a central role in the
development of children. Vygotsky’s theory states that development occurs when
children work collaboratively to solve problems. Analysis of the teacher data showed
that the majority of teachers (67.9%) put their students in groups or teams to work on
garden-related assignments. Additionally, interactions with adults can lead to
scaffolding - leading children into more complex levels of thinking. Almost all of
the teachers in this study (82.1%) had parents helping in the garden. Children’s
interactions with these adults could have influence on their development.
As with Vygotsky’s theory, Bandura believes that cognitive skills and
structures are derived through social interactions. Bandura’s theory of social
cognitive development theory reasons that the interactions of students’ behavior,
personal factors, and their environment influence their development. These
interactions are reasoned to be the basis for learning by observation, or vicarious
learning (Bandura, 1986). By watching other students or adults, students must focus
their attention, construct images, remember, analyze, and make decisions (Woolfork,
1998). A garden is a place where students may observe their peers, teacher, or adults
that help in their garden.
Implications related to ecological theory
The finding that variation existed among users of school gardens can be linked
back to Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model of human development (Figure 1-2).
According to this model, the school is a microsystem environment that has significant

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impact on a child’s development. The classroom environment, where a student
spends approximately eight hours a day, and the garden as an element of that
environment influence, students’ development because this system requires the
students’ first-hand participation and interaction.
The garden as an extension of the classroom environment can provide the
settings for the activities required for development. The intensity of a school garden
was based on the number of activities students participate in prior to and while in the
garden. If these activities occur, take place on a regular basis over an extended period
of time, become increasingly more complex, and require a degree of reciprocity, then
development will occur. Based on teacher data, it is evident that activity in the
garden was occurring, albeit at varying degrees. Additionally, analysis showed that
the number of activities students participated in best explained the variation in
students’ attitudes toward science and usefulness of science scores, as well as their
garden attitude scores. This demonstrates the usefulness of ecological theory for
conceptualizing research theory and design.
Implications for experiential learning theory
Teachers in previous studies have indicated that they use school gardens to
promote experiential learning (DeMarco, 1999; Skelly & Bradley, 2000). This is
most likely due to the ability of a garden to lend itself to experiences that can be
drawn, articulated, and acted on. Stone (1994) states that these types of experiences
allow development to occur.
Although teachers use the garden for experiential learning, because of the age
group that participatied and their level of cognitive development, most students will

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experience stages 1 and 2 of Kolb’s (1984) experiential learning model: (1) concrete
and direct experience and (2) reflection and observation. The typological analysis
indicates that all students are given the opportunity to reach stage 1, although at
varying degrees, however it is unknown how many of the students reach stage 2.
Teachers are providing the environment for experiential learning to take place by
providing students with direct and concrete experiences that puts the subject matter
being taught in a “real-world” context. As was mentioned previously, students enjoy
working and learning in the garden and so this context is stimulating and interesting
to students, two additional traits of a successful experiential learning experience
(Osborne, 1994). Reaching stage 2 typically requires the teachers’ guidance, and for
this study, it was unknown if such guidance took place.
The conceptual foundation developed from these theories aided in the design
of this study, strengthened the research, and aided in the understanding of research
findings. The results of this research project based on this theoretical framework
support the continued use of this theory combination in future research.
Implications for Future Research
The findings of this study have several implications for future research.
Methodological issues as well as recommendations for additional studies are
addressed.
Methodological issues
One of the primary goals of this study was to examine students’ youth
developmental assets and whether school gardens contributed to these assets. As of

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yet, we do not have good reliable measures of some of the constructs, especially in
regards to youth development. There are several factors that contribute to the
difficulty in assessing youth development. Maturation is a problem that occurs
during this time of rapid development. Additionally, children are influenced by many
sources. We do know that the richness of the environment is important, however a
one-time measure of this environment may not be adequate to assess the progressive
complexity of environments.
Due to an inadequate measurement index, only one of the four assets under
investigation was examined. The index used to measure these assets was developed
for adolescent students in 6th to 12th grade, therefore statements and responses from
the index had to be altered to so that they could be used with third-grade students.
This change in wording could have caused the statements to lose their meaning and
not measure the concept they were purported to measure. Factor analysis of the asset
scales showed that the statements did not measure the assets they were designed to
measure. A more appropriate tool needs to be developed so that these assets can be
studied with younger students without altering existing instruments.
Similarly, an instrument measuring students’ attitudes toward the environment
needs to be developed. A commonly used instrument is the Children’s
Environmental Response Inventory (CERI, Bunting & Cousins, 1985), however it
contains 185 statement, a number to high too be used in this study. For this reason,
only a few questions were taken from the CERI. To accompany these questions were
several that Jaus (1985) used successfully in a study with third-grade students. Factor
analysis of this combined index indicated that only questions dealing with caring for

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the environment could be used reliably. This limited what is known about students’
environmental attitudes. While the CERI measures many dimensions of children’s
environmental attitudes and has an adequate reliability, a condensed version is needed
if other variables besides environmental attitudes are to be examined in a study.
On the other hand, this study revealed the usefulness of the Attitudes,
Preferences, and Understandings scale to measure student attitudes toward science as
well as a scale to measure students’ attitudes toward the garden. Questions
comprising the science attitude scale produced an alpha reliability of 90, a mean of
3.96, and a standard deviation of 1.04. The usefulness of science study scale had an
alpha of .65, a mean of 3.76, and a standard deviation of .87. Five questions to
measure students’ attitudes toward the garden were constructed based on questions
measuring science attitudes. This new garden scale had an alpha reliability of .92, a
mean of 4.19, and a standard deviation of 1.01. Due to the high reliability of each
scale, especially the garden attitude scale, these could be used in future research
studies.
Additional studies
The first recommendation for additional studies is to replicate this study with
similar and different groups of students. The qualitative and quantitative approach is
also recommended as this combination provides more insight into the way a school
garden is being used and how it may ultimately impact and benefit the students.
Qualitative observational research of teachers using school gardens is suggested so
that we learn more about the teaching styles, classroom environment, and teacher
attitudes that may affect students’ development.

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A goal of this study was to determine if variation existed among the ways
teachers and students used school gardens. To reach this goal, this study looked only
at teachers using school gardens to gain an understanding of the within group
variation. Now that it has been established that variation exists among users of
school gardens, additional studies are recommended to study how school gardens
benefit students in comparison with students not using school gardens. These studies
need to occur with the knowledge that variation among school garden users exists and
should be accounted for when comparing users to non-users. With this understanding
in place, researchers can gain a better understanding of the extent to which a school
garden may influence and benefit students using such gardens.
Another area for investigation includes looking at gardening programs as
exemplary. Some school gardening programs may qualify as exemplary according to
the National Science Teachers Association (see page 75 for a definition). In a study
of exemplary science programs, Yager and Penick (1989) found that students
perceived science as being fun, exciting, interesting, and less boring. Students in
these programs also had more positive attitudes toward science and students’ attitudes
did not worsen over time (Simons & Yager, 1987; Yager, 1988, Yager & Penick,
1989). An examination of school gardens and school garden type as possible
exemplary science programs is therefore warranted.
More studies examining school gardens, with students in many grade levels
also need to occur. This study focused only on third graders whose sense of
responsibility may already have been in place, and whose attitudes toward science,
the environment, and the garden may already have been positive. Students’ attitudes

169
toward science have been reported to start out high in elementary school but
gradually decline as they progress up the grades (Ayers & Price, 1975; Yager &
Penick, 1989). Studies with older and younger students may provide a better
understanding as to the role of the garden in influencing asset and attitude
development.
One variable not examined in this study due to logistical and design
constraints was students’ science achievement scores. Since all the teachers in this
study were using the garden to teach science, an investigation into how the garden
influences achievement scores is warranted. This type of study would be best carried
out using a quasi-experimental design with students participating in a school garden
and students not participating in a school garden. Such a study could reveal if the
garden as a teaching tool for science is effective. One other way of carrying out this
study would be to obtain state mandated achievement test scores for students in
gardening and non-gardening programs to explore differences. Since teachers are
using the garden to teach to different science standards, a standard test of science
achievement would allow for such measurement.
Studies of school gardens should not be limited to science and environmental
attitudes and knowledge gain. Future studies should explore all the potential benefits
cited by educators using school gardens: development of skills such as sharing,
teamwork, cooperation (In Virginia, 1992; Becker, 1995; Berghom, 1988; Canaris,
1995; Gwynn, 1988; Neer, 1990), patience (Craig, 1997; Pivnick, 1994), self-control,
self-esteem (Craig, 1997), self-confidence (Chawla, 1994; Dwight, 1992), self-
reliance (Henry & DeLauro, 1996), leadership, organization, planning (Berghom,

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1988), responsibility (Canaris, 1995; Gwynn, 1988), discipline for being on time,
following directions, making decisions (Dwight, 1992), a work ethic (Braun, 1989;
Canaris, 1995; Dwight, 1992), a respect of work (Becker, 1995), positive feelings
toward school, a desire to participate in school activities (Lucas, 1995; Stetson, 1991),
and community connectedness (Barron, 1993; Canaris, 1995).
Each of these types of studies should also be carried out using pre- and
posttest designs to obtain a measure of student variables before and after participating
in a school garden program. Additionally, longitudinal studies of students who
participate in school programs is needed to document possible long-term benefits.
Longitudinal studies may also reveal if benefits derived from school gardening
programs remain with the student or if they change over time.
In conclusion, this study and theories on which it was based provide a
rationale for carrying out further related research. Efforts should continue to explore
the impact and benefits school gardens have on and provide to students.
Implications for Practice
The results of this study provide implications for practice by teachers using or
wishing to use school gardens. Teachers should use school gardens to foster students’
sense of responsibility. Students in all types of gardens had very high responsibility
scores, indicating that they did indeed have a sense of responsibility. Teachers should
allow students to participate in garden-related activities that advance this sense of
responsibility. Some suggested activities include growing and nurturing a seed to a
plant, watering plants, and tending to the garden as a whole.

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School gardens should be used to assist in the teaching of science. The
results of this study show that students participating in school gardens, in general, had
positive attitudes toward science. Researchers claim that instilling positive attitudes
toward science in children must start at a young age (Catsambis, 1995; Farenga &
Joyce, 1998; Simpson & Oliver, 1990; Yager & McCormack, 1985; Yager & Yager,
1989). These researchers contend that possessing positive attitudes early on can
improve students’ interest in science and stimulate them to enroll in more science
classes and even pursue a science-related career. School gardens provide a place
where science can be taught informally and through hands-on and inquiry-based
activities, two suggestions made by Farenga and Joyce (1998) as ways of stimulating
interest in and promoting positive attitudes toward science. Programs that stimulate
curiosity, creativity, and show connections to the real world have been shown to
promote and perpetuate positive attitudes toward science (Yager & McCormack,
1989; Yager & Penick, 1989). School garden programs have the potential to
accomplish these tasks.
Teachers should use school gardens to teach environmental education and
encourage positive environmental attitudes. Knowledge of and positive attitudes
toward the environment are necessary keys for making informed decisions about
environmental issues (Ramsey & Rickson, 1976) and for carrying out
environmentally responsible behavior (Ramsey et al., 1992). This study revealed that
students in all types of gardens had positive attitudes toward the environment. School
gardens give students a chance to interact with the environment and nature, which
may influence their attitudes toward the environment positively. Additionally, school

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gardens offer an ideal place to teach environmental education and to inform students
about the environment and environmental issues.
Teachers should considering using combination flower and vegetable gardens
with their students. While science attitude scores and responsibility scores were not
significantly higher for students in combination gardens versus flower and vegetable
gardens, students’ attitudes toward the garden were highest for those student in high
intensity combination gardens. Combination gardens offer the best of both types of
gardens; they provide the aesthetics of a flower garden and the science of a vegetable
garden. Many different types of lessons can be addressed through a combination
garden ranging from art and language art lessons to math and science lessons. The
diversity of a combination garden provides many benefits to teachers and students
through education, but also through enjoyment. However, while a combination
garden is recommended, the attributes of flower and vegetable gardens alone should
not be overlooked. Students in medium intensity vegetable gardens had the highest
science attitude and usefulness of science study attitude scores. Since most teachers
are using vegetable gardens to teach science, their efforts seem to be effective in
promoting positive science attitudes. For the purposes of this study, garden types
were condensed into three types: flower, vegetable, and combination. Many teachers
are using flower gardens to attract butterflies. Butterfly gardens are very popular
among Florida elementary school teachers (Skelly & Bradley, 2000) and would fall
under the flower category for this study. Butterfly gardens provide aesthetics, but
also help teach science as it relates to butterflies and their life cycle. In conclusion,

173
all garden types are effective in their own ways, but to bring the best of all types
together, a combination garden is recommended.
The initial phase of this research project was to determine how teachers are
using school gardens. Results of this inquiry phase revealed that teacher in-service
training and/or a school garden manual are needed. A training program and/or
manual could provide teachers with many of the resources they seem to lack in regard
to school gardens. One of the issues that could be covered in a training program or
manual should be on volunteer help. Teachers do not appear to be getting the
volunteer help they need in the garden or may be unaware of help that may be
available to them. Most teachers were relying on help from parents and a few were
getting help from agriculture education members or older students at their school.
Very few teachers are using Master Gardener or garden club volunteers to help with
their gardens. Efforts need to be taken to put teachers in touch with Master Gardener
and garden club volunteers so that they may help teachers and students with their
school gardens. These two groups of people are usually very knowledgeable about
gardening and can assist teachers and students with problems they may be having in
their gardens. Additionally, having more than one adult in the garden with students
improves the student/teacher ratio, allowing all involved to gain a more from the
garden experience.
Another topic to cover should be where teachers can get information that can
help them design, use, and integrate a school garden into their curriculum. There are
many sources of information available to teachers regarding gardening in general,
school gardening, and environmental education. Teachers seem to be relying on their

174
own knowledge to incorporate gardening into their curriculum. While this is a
worthwhile practice, utilizing other sources of information can only enhance the
garden program. In addition to a resource of sources of information, the training
and/or manual could provide teachers with a list of the numerous educational
materials available to teachers using school gardens. These sources of information
and educational materials can only help improve the way teachers use school gardens
and subsequently improve the impact they have on students.
Ideally, an in-service training program along with a school garden manual
would provide teachers with a plethora of information that will help them improve
their school garden programs. While a manual may seem to suffice, a training
program that brings in teachers from across the state or nation will allow for
interaction and idea exchange among users of school gardens. This exchange of ideas
can not only provide ideas on how to use the garden in the classroom and curriculum,
but may also offer ways teachers can gain recognition and reward for their programs.
DeMarco (1999) found that teachers in her study needed additional education to
improve their use of school gardening. Teachers indicated that they were most
interested in receiving this education through an in-service training course. Teachers
felt the in-service education would best gained by a training session with a school
gardening expert, through Master Gardener training, or by taking continuing
education or graduate courses at a local institution of higher learning. Most teachers
wanted information about how to use the school garden as an effective teaching
strategy as well as how to incorporate the garden into the curriculum and
environmental education.

175
Contributions of this Study
This study made several theoretical and practical contributions to the body of
knowledge related to school garden research. First, this study was founded on the
dominant theories of cognitive, social cognitive, and ecological development.
Relationships of these theories to each other and to their role in examining school
garden programs as a vehicle for youth development were presented. These
developmental theories, along with experiential learning theory provided a strong
theoretical base from which to design and conduct a study of the role of school
gardens in positive youth development. These theories and their combination provide
a sound means on which to design and carry out future studies.
This study was also the first to examine existing school gardens without using
a curriculum or designed garden program as an experimental treatment. One
objective of this study was to ascertain the effectiveness of school gardens as teachers
are currently using them. A multi-level framework, or typology was constructed that
allowed school gardens to be classified by their form (vegetable, flower, or
combination vegetable/flower) and intensity, based on the number of activities
students participated in prior to and while in the garden into nine types of school
gardens. This allowed for ecological inquires such as by whom, for whom, how, and
under what conditions school gardens were being used. This framework provided the
basis for analyzing the dependent variables of responsibility and student attitudes
toward science, the usefulness of science, the environment, and the garden. The
typology successfully explained variation in students’ science and garden attitude
scores as they related to garden type. Even though only a small amount of the

176
variance was explained, when examined in the larger scheme of the number of
influences on youth development, this finding is significant. This framework or
typology would be useful in future studies of school gardens.
This study also marked the first time students’ science attitudes were
examined as they related to school gardens. Results from this study indicated that
significant differences were present among different types of gardens. While no trend
was evident as to which type of garden produced the most positive attitudes toward
science, most students participating in this study had positive attitudes toward science
and the usefulness of science study. Whether these attitudes are due to the garden
program is unknown, but these findings provide a rationale for future studies.
Perhaps the most significant finding of this study is that as school garden
intensity increased, students’ attitudes toward the garden became more positive.
Many educators and researchers have championed school gardens as places that allow
children to have fun and enjoy themselves while learning. On a scale of 1 - (low) to
5 - (high), the mean garden attitude score for students in this study was 4.19 with a
standard deviation of 1.01. This indicates that students were indeed enjoying the
garden and that as they participated in more garden-related activities prior to and
while in the garden, their attitudes toward the garden became more positive. This
result is encouraging for teachers using school gardens as well as for teachers
thinking of starting one.

177
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186
Always
APPENDIX A
FLOWER SCALE USED IN STUDENT SURVEY
Most of Half the
the time time
Sometimes Never

187
APPENDIX B
SCALE RELIABILITY AND CORRELATION STATISTICS
Table B-l. The factor analysis and comprising variables for the youth
developmental asset - responsibility scale
Statement
Factor
Score
Eigenvalue
I care how well I do in school.
.656
1.789
At school, I try as hard as I can to do my best work.
.656
I accept responsibility for my actions when I make a mistake
or get in trouble.
.642
I do my best even when it is a job I do not like to do.
.628
Explained variance =45 Percent
Table B-2. The correlation matrix of items in the youth developmental assets -
responsibility scale.
Variable
i
2
3
4
1.
I accept responsibility for my actions
when I make a mistake or get in
trouble.
1.0
2.
I do my best even when it is a job I do
not like to do.
.297*
1.0
3.
I care how well I do in school.
.195*
.246*
1.0
4.
* -
At school, I try as hard as I can to do
my best work.
.255*
.257*
.322*
1.0
* = significant at p < .01

188
Table B-3. The factor analysis and comprising variables for the science attitudes
scale
Statement
Factor
Score
Eigenvalue
I like science.
.874
3.537
Science time is fun.
.848
Science time is exciting.
.800
Science makes me want to learn more.
.758
Science time is boring
.725
Explained variance = 71 Percent
Table B-4. The correlation matrix of items in the science attitudes scale.
Variable
1
2
3
4 5
1. Science time is fun.
1.0
2. Science makes me want to learn more.
.659*
1.0
3. I like science.
.739*
.645*
1.0
4. Science time is exciting.
.677*
.631*
.727*
1.0
5. Science time is boring.
.563*
.489*
.588*
.595* 1.0
* = significant at p < .01

189
Table B-5. The factor analysis and comprising variables for the usefulness of
science study scale.
Statement
Factor
Score
Eigenvalue
My teachers wants me to ask questions when we do science.
.682
2.296
Science time teaches me skill to use outside of school.
.581
Being a scientist would be fun.
.577
Science helps me test ideas I have.
.555
Being a scientist that studies plants would be fun.
.505
Explained variance = 46 Percent
Table B-6. The correlation matrix of items in the usefulness of science study scale.
Variable
1
2
3
4
5
1. Science time helps me test ideas I have.
1.0
2. Science time teaches me skills to use
outside of school.
437**
1.0
3. My teacher wants me to ask questions
when we do science.
.082
.080
1.0
4. Being a scientist would be fun.
431**
.350**
.108*
1.0
5. Being a scientist that studies plants
would be fun.
** — - a 1
477**
399**
.008
.454**
1.0
** = significant at p < .01
* = significant at p < .05

190
Table B-7. The factor analysis and comprising variables for the garden attitudes
scale.
Statement
Factor
Score
Eigenvalue
The garden makes learning fun.
.900
3.822
Working in the garden is exciting.
.893
Working in the garden makes me want to learn more.
.880
The garden helps me learn new things.
.854
Working in the garden is fun.
.844
Explained variance = 76 Percent
Table B-8. The correlation matrix of items in the garden attitudes scale.
Variable
1
2
3
4
5
1.
Working in the garden is fun.
1.0
2.
Working in the garden makes me want
to leam more.
.700*
1.0
3.
Working in the garden is exciting.
.715*
.719*
1.0
4.
The garden makes learning fun.
.667*
.726*
.773*
1.0
5.
The garden helps me leam new things.
.606*
.693*
.686*
.752*
1.0
* = significant at p < .01

191
Table B-9. The factor analysis and comprising variables for the environmental
attitudes scale.
Statement
Factor
Score
Eigenvalue
I think people must take care of the environment.
.725
1.894
I think people should try to recycle.
.704
I think people should take care of plants and animals.
.681
I think newspapers should be recycled.
.619
Explained variance = 47 Percent
Table B-10. The correlation matrix of items in the environmental attitudes scale.
Variable
1
2
3
4
1.
I think people should take care of
plants and animals.
1.0
2.
I think people should try to recycle.
.281*
1.0
3.
I think newspapers should be recycled.
.219*
.381*
1.0
4.
I think people must take care of the
environment.
.315*
.323*
.309*
1.0
* = significant at p < .01

192
APPENDIX C
SAMPLE PARENTAL CONSENT LETTER

193
Dear Parent/Guardian,
I am a graduate student in the Department of Environmental Horticulture at the
University of Florida, conducting research, under the supervision of Dr. Jennifer C.
Bradley, on the possible benefits of school gardens to students. The purpose of this study
is to examine the effect of school garden programs on the youth developmental assets of
achievement motivation, school engagement, responsibility, interpersonal competence,
attitudes towards science, and environmental attitudes of participating students. The
results of the study may help determine if and how school garden programs are beneficial
to students. These results may not directly help your child today, but may benefit future
students.
Your child’s teacher will give a survey, to students during the school day. The
survey should take approximately 30 minutes to complete and will take place the first
week of April. With your permission, your student will take the survey during this time.
Students will be instructed to answer the survey questions, but they will not have to
answer any question they do not wish to answer. The survey will be accessible only to
the research team for verification purposes. Although the students will be asked to write
their names on the questionnaires for matching purposes, their identity will be kept
confidential to the extent provided by law. We will replace their names with code
numbers. Results will only be reported in the form of group data. Participation or non¬
participation in this study will not affect the children's grades or placement in any
programs. Any child without permission to participate will take the survey along with
the other students, but the teacher will not return their survey to the researchers.
You and your child have the right to withdraw consent for your child’s
participation at any time without consequence. There are no known risks or immediate
benefits to the participants. Students taking the survey will receive a packet of seeds as
compensation for taking the survey. Group results of this study will be available in
December upon request. If you have any questions about this research project, please
contact me at (352) 392-7641 or my faculty advisor, Dr. Jennifer C. Bradley at (352) 392-
7936. Questions or concerns about research participant’s rights may be directed to the
UFIRB office, University of Florida, Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392-
0433.
Sonja Skelly
I have read the procedure described above. I voluntarily give my consent for my child,
, to participate in Sonja Skelly’s study of school garden
benefits to students. I have received a copy of this description.
Parent/Guardian
Date
2nd Parent/Witness
Date

194
APPENDIX D
SAMPLE TEACHER INSTRUCTIONS

195
STUDENT SURVEY INSTRUCTIONS
The survey should take approximately 30 minutes to administer.
1. Before passing out the student surveys, please read the following script to your
students. This is to get assent from the students. Any student who doesn’t raise
their hand (not assenting to take the survey) does not have to take the survey.
“Students, today a graduate student, Sonja Skelly, from the University of Florida
has asked us to take a survey. The survey will ask you some questions about you and
how you feel about school and our school garden. There are no right or wrong answers
to these questions. This survey is about you and how you feel, so your answers may be
different from other students in your class. That’s OK, you don’t have to have the same
answers. You can stop at any time. You do not have to answer any questions you don’t
want to. Your participation or non-participation will not affect your grades. If you want to
take the survey raise your hand.”
2. Pass out the student survey.
3. Have students write their name, your name, and their grade.
4. Have students write their birthday. This question presented some problems during
the pilot test. We found that if we asked students to write their birthday, and gave
them an example, such as April 16, 1990, they understood what to put down. Using
birthdays is more accurate than asking students for their age.
5. Go over the example on the second page. The amount of petals on the flower is
designed to give students a visual picture of the responses.
They can circle the word underneath the flower, just the flower, or both. What is
most important is that they select the response that best describes them.
6. Let students take the survey.
**We found that it was better to let students read the questions on their own and
answer accordingly. Let students know if they have a question to raise their hand and
you will help explain the question. However, if you think it would be best to read each
statement to the students please do so. Listed on the back page are some statements
that were confusing to students in our pilot test. I have provided some examples to help
you explain the statements to your students should the need arise. If you have a more
appropriate example to help explain this statement or any other problem statement(s),
please feel free to use your explanation.
7. Collect surveys. Mail consent forms and completed teacher and student surveys in
the enclosed envelope by April 14.
THANK YOU!!

196
APPENDIX E
SAMPLE PROBLEM QUESTIONS AND EXAMPLES
SAMPLE RESPONSES
Here are the statements that gave some students in the pilot test problems:
#2 - I do my best even when it is a job I do not like to do.
Example to give students:
You do your best at cleaning up your room even when you don’t really
want to clean it.
#25 - I think people should try to recycle.
Example to give students:
Define recycling - using something more than once, like making old soda
cans into new soda cans.
#27 - I think people should stop air pollution.
Define air pollution - air pollution is when people make the air dirty by
putting bad stuff into it, like chemicals and smoke - they make the air dirty.
#29-1 think people must take care of the environment.
Define environment - the earth, nature, all the animals and trees, oceans,
air.
#30 - I think people should stop water pollution.
Define water pollution - water pollution is when people put bad stuff into
the water like chemicals or trash - they make the water dirty.

APPENDIX F
CORRELATION STATISTICS OF TYPOLOGY FACTORS

Table F-l. Correlation statistics for typology factors.
Variable
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
1. Number of activities students participate in
1
prior to and while in the garden.
2. Percent of time the garden is used as an
instructional tool in the classroom.
.218*
1
3. Number of hours per week students spend
in the garden.
.276*
.348*
1
4. Number of Science Sunshine State
Standards addressed through use of the
garden.
.172*
.220*
.311*
1
5. Number of subject areas into which the
garden has been incorporated.
6. Number of sources and types of material
.651*
.105**
.243*
.216*
1
used to support the garden in the
curriculum.
.647*
.369*
.440*
.274*
.689*
1
7. Number of years the garden has been a part
of your curriculum.
.311*
.291*
.396*
.952*
.235*
.295*
1
* = significant atp = .000 ** = significant at p< .05

Table G-l. ANCOVA statistics for typology factors.
Factor
R
SA
US
EA
GA
No. of hours per week students spend in
the garden.
F = .236
F = 2.85*
F = 2.07
F = 2.29*
F = 6.08**
Percent of time the garden is used as an
instructional tool in the classroom.
F= 1.48
F = 6.44**
F = 8.12**
F = 1.37
F= 14.42**
No. of subject areas into which the
garden has been incorporated.
F = 2.28*
F = 2.35*
F = 6.76**
F= 1.61
F = 9.98**
No. of years the garden has been a part
of your curriculum.
F = .563
F = 5.05**
F = 4.65**
F = 2.73*
F= 13.29**
No. of sources and types of material
used to support the garden in the
curriculum.
F= 1.32
F = 2.07*
F = 3.82**
F= 1.42
F= 12.19**
No. of Science Sunshine State
Standards addressed through use of the
garden.
F = .629
F = 5.73**
F = 1.35**
F = 2.31*
F= 8.95**
R = Responsibility; SA = Science Attitudes; US = Usefulness of Science Attitudes;
EA = Environmental Attitudes; GA = Garden Attitudes
*p<.05 **p = .000
APPENDIX G
ANCOVA STATISTICS FOR TYPOLOGY FACTORS

200
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Sonja Marie Skelly was bom in Houston, Texas on April 16, 1971. Sonja
grew up the oldest of three children living in Seabrook, a small coastal town outside
of Houston. Sonja’s love of plants came from her grandparents who were avid
gardeners. They taught her how to grow plants and appreciate nature. Sonja’s
parents instilled in her a desire to do well in school and always encouraged her to
pursue her dreams. Sonja graduated from Clear Lake High School in 1989.
After graduation, Sonja attended Texas A&M University, where she earned a
Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology in August 1994. During her undergraduate
career, Sonja began working for Dr. Gretchen Jones, a research scientist with the
USD A. Dr. Jones encouraged Sonja to pursue her goal of going to graduate school.
With her background in Anthropology and her desire to work with plants, Sonja was
invited by Dr. Jayne Zajicek to enter graduate school in the Department of
Horticultural Sciences at Texas A&M University. Dr. Zajicek was researching
projects in the area of Human Issues in Horticulture and suggested that Sonja begin a
research project in this area. Sonja chose to work with schoolteachers to research the
effect of their gardens on the environmental attitudes of their students. Sonja
received her master’s degree from Texas A&M University in December 1997.
In August 1997, Sonja began working with Dr. Jennifer C. Bradley at the
University of Florida. She continued her research with school gardens to complete

201
her Ph.D. After graduating, Sonja plans to pursue a career in horticulture and to
continue assessing the benefits of plants to people.

I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
(Jennifer
radley, Chair
Assistant Professor of Horticultural
Science
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
£ ^
dchael E. Kane
Professor of Horticultural Science
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, f
MU
Steven GyJacob
Assistant Professor of Agricultural
Education and Communication
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
/j
Tracy S. Hoover
Associate Professor of Agricultural
Education and Communication

I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
ff).
Theresa Ferrari
Assistant Professor of Agricultural
Education and Communication
This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the College of
Agriculture and to the Graduate School and was accepted as partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
December 2000
Dean, College of Agriculture
Sciences
Dean, Graduate School

LD
1780
20 M_
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
3 1262 08555 1785

PERMISSION TO QUOTE/REPRODUCE COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL
I (We), > t^Axj A u v< A , owner(s) of the copyright of
the work known as Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control hereby authorize
Sonia Skelly to use the following material as part of her dissertation to be submitted to
the University of Florida.
Page Figure/Table to be Reproduced
6 Figure 1.1 Triadic Reciprocal Determinism
I (We) further extend this authorization to University Microfilms Inc., Ann Arbor,
Michigan, for the purposes of reproducing and distributing microformed copies of the
dissertation.
AJ.. Í ^
Signature of Copyright Holder
vi rs/
Date

LD
1780
20j22_
S<*v*
.roeiTV nF FLORIDA
3 1262 08555 1785




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