Impact of school gardens on student attitudes and beliefs
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Current research on school gardens implies positive changes in student attitudes, however most of this research is focused on how students change their dietary behavior during short-term studies. This study provides baseline data for a long-term survey of student attitudes toward gardening, peer relationships, and students' science efficacy. The population for this study was sixth to ninth grade students at Gifft Hill School, St. John, USVI. This school is participating in a five year school garden implementation program associated with the Department of Horticulture at Iowa State University. While the population is limited (N= 40), the implications of a long-term school garden program for middle school students could add significant data to the research available for student attitudes toward school gardens and the impact gardens have on science achievement.
The participants in this study were confident in their ability to complete the science tasks presented in each grades respective science class. Students were also able to recognize the importance of maintaining plant health in the school garden. New students and returning students differed in the degree to which they believe they had the ability to grow and maintain a garden as adults; however they appear to be developing positive attitudes toward consuming fruits and vegetables from their school garden. The baseline data presented in this study will be used for comparison of future student responses to aid Gifft Hill School and Iowa State University with the implementation of this school garden program.