The Role of School Gardens in Influencing Attitudes of Students Toward Agriculture, Science, and the Environment while Fostering Academic Achievement in Classrooms
Use of the Junior Master Gardener JMG® program in the classroom resulted in increased knowledge and increased positive attitudes in areas of science and the environment. The results imply that the program could be used successfully in the classroom to teach science and environmental education. Because teachers indicated through observations and in post evaluations that the curriculum was interesting and easy to use, it also implies that the program could be incorporated into areas of current curriculum. One notable observation was that the students had fun doing the program and thus may be more likely to enjoy and stay involved in science and the environment in the future.
Short term: Youth will improve science skills
Short term: Youth will improve attitudes toward agriculture, science, and environment
Long term: Youth will plant and maintain a school garden
1) Attitudes toward science and agriculture: Students will be asked questions regarding their attitudes toward and interest in science, agriculture, and environmental studies. The attitudinal assessment tool will be based on a Likert-type scale, ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree.
2) Knowledge of science and agriculture: Students will be asked questions regarding their knowledge of science and agriculture. This assessment tool will be adapted from an already existing evaluation of science and agriculture knowledge.
3) Skills in science and agriculture: Students will demonstrate application of science and agricultural. This will be shown by students’ future care and maintenance of their school garden.
Fourteen classroom totaling 256 youth participated in the project. Pre-post testing utilizing a newly developed survey instrument revealed the following:
1) Youth will improve science skills: Overall, youth showed a significant change (p=0.001) in science knowledge when measured pre/post program after 12 weeks. 2) Youth will improve attitudes toward agriculture, science, and environment: Overall, youth showed a significant change (p=0.001) in attitudes toward science and the environment when measured pre/post program after 12 weeks. 3) Youth will plant and maintain a school garden. All classrooms participating in the project performed outdoor gardening activities. Several classrooms that did not have school gardens at the start of the project initiated and completed them as part of the project.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Results indicated that students had significant levels of knowledge and positive attitude gain from pre- to post-tests in the areas of agriculture, science, and the environment. Observations and evaluations supported the quantitative results showing that the students and teacher found the JMG® program to be valuable in the classroom — as well as enjoyable — which may lead to more student interest in science and the environment. As a result of this project, 13 of the 15 teachers in the study indicated that they would use the program again in their classrooms.
Graduate Research Assistant
Department of 4-H Youth Development
615 W. State St.
W Lafayette, IN 47907-2053
Office Phone: 7654948439