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Exploring the Impact of Outdoor Environmental Activities on Children Using a Qualitative Text Data Analysis System



The main objective of this study was to investigate the impact of an outdoor environmental program, Math and Science in the Outdoor Classroom, on elementary grade students' creative and critical thinking, and attitudes toward math and science. Math and Science in the Outdoor Classroom is an on-campus nature program in Santa Fe, N.M. Students participated in half-day programs focusing on topics such as water, insects, soil, and weather. Twenty-one teachers from five schools volunteered 175 second through sixth graders to participate in the program and research study. Surveys were administered to students, teachers, and volunteers after completion of the program. Interview data was analyzed using QSR NUD*IST (Nonnumerical Unstructured Data Indexing Searching and Theory-building) computer-assisted qualitative data analysis system to examine respondents' perceptions of the program using Bloom's taxonomy as a theoretical framework. Results indicated that students not only learned math and science at the lower levels of Bloom's taxonomy, but were also thinking at the higher levels of synthesis and evaluation within the framework.
• October–December 2003 13(4)
Exploring the
Impact of Outdoor
Activities on
Children Using a
Qualitative Text Data
Analysis System
T.M. Waliczek,1 P. Logan,2
and J.M. Zajicek3
environmental education, children’s
horticulture, horticulture therapy,
elementary education, outdoor educa-
tion, computer-aided qualitative data
analysis system (CAQDAS), computer
software, qualitative research, QSR
NUD*IST software, Bloom’s tax-
onomy, math attitudes and science
SUMMARY. The main objective of this
study was to investigate the impact of an
outdoor environmental program, Math
and Science in the Outdoor Classroom,
on elementary grade students’ creative
and critical thinking, and attitudes
toward math and science. Math and
Science in the Outdoor Classroom
is an on-campus nature program in
Santa Fe, N.M. Students participated
in half-day programs focusing on
topics such as water, insects, soil, and
weather. Twenty-one teachers from
five schools volunteered 175 second
through sixth graders to participate in
the program and research study. Surveys
were administered to students, teachers,
and volunteers after completion of the
program. Interview data was analyzed
using QSR NUD*IST (Nonnumerical
Unstructured Data Indexing Searching
and Theory-building) computer-as-
sisted qualitative data analysis system to
examine respondents’ perceptions of the
program using Bloom’s taxonomy as a
theoretical framework. Results indicated
that students not only learned math and
science at the lower levels of Bloom’s
taxonomy, but were also thinking at the
higher levels of synthesis and evaluation
within the framework.
Department of Agriculture, Texas State University–San
Marcos, San Marcos, TX 78666.
1Assistant professor.
2Educational consultant, 3031 Calle Caballero, Santa
Fe, NM 87505.
3Professor, Department of Horticultural Sciences, Texas
A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-2133.
qualitative methodologies argue that
those who use quantitative methods are
losing validity in the effort to maintain a
controlled condition within the experi-
ment. They also argue that data is not
meaningful when it occurs outside of
the natural environment. Supporters of
quantitative designs argue that those
who utilize qualitative methodologies
have difficulty replicating the experi-
ment in the general population due to
small sample sizes; the data is subjective
and will be difficult to analyze because
of the verbal context of the data and
the way in which it is collected (e.g.,
documents, case studies, interviews
and observations) (Babbie, 1990;
Low, 1987).
Some researchers support the
notion of integrating both types of
methodologies into research designs,
thereby gaining the advantages of each
while minimizing their disadvantages
(Bogdan and Biklen, 1992). While
some related anthropological research
areas have incorporated qualitative
data into research (e.g., ethnobotany,
ethnopharmacology), most research-
ers in the horticulture realm still shy
away from qualitative research design
(Barker, 1992; Merton, 1995).
Computer-aided qualitative data
analysis systems (CAQDAS) were first
developed in the early 1980s. While
this technology allowed greater ease
in the analysis of qualitative data, there
was some controversy over the implica-
tions of using computers for qualitative
research analysis. Concerns tended to
be that the computer program would
not guide, but control the outcome
of the experiment, with the researcher
becoming too distanced from the data.
Supporters of computer use reasoned
that the software would allow the re-
searcher more time for analysis, rather
than spending larger amounts of time
with tedious organizational tasks that
are so much a part of the qualitative
technique (e.g., searching for key
words, filing note cards, color-coding
responses) (Burgess, 1995; Buston,
1997; Coffey et al., 1996; Lee and
Fielding, 1996).
Nevertheless, the ease for com-
puter-based analysis of qualitative data
may make the methodology more
appealing to quantitative approach
The objectives of this study were
to investigate the impact of outdoor
environmental activities on children’s
critical and creative thinking, as well
Outdoor programs have been
used historically in conjunc-
tion with the general school
curriculum to promote learning and
plant knowledge, agricultural methods,
and nature, among other lessons (Bach-
ert, 1976; Montessori, 1912; Skelly
and Bradley, 2000). These types of
programs have educational benefits
because of the hands-on, experiential
learning, as well as their real-world
application (Barron, 1993; Kutsunai,
1994). Some educators report that
these outdoor learning experiences
result in greater scores in science, or
greater academic achievement overall
(Braun et al., 1989; Stetson, 1991).
Outdoor nature programs provide
a positive, fun environment for children
to learn about the world (Alexander et
al., 1995; Barker, 1992; Konoshima,
1995), as well as teaching them re-
sponsibility (Kaiser, 1976; Konoshima,
1995; Montessori, 1912), improving
their attitudes towards school and
reducing dropout rates (Baum et al.,
1985). Educators admit that there is
a correlation between childrens’ at-
titudes toward school and academic
Studies have shown that it is
important to instill positive attitudes
toward science in children at an early
age (Catsambis, 1995; Farenga and
Joyce, 1998; Simpson and Oliver,
1990; Yager and McCormack, 1989;
Yager and Yager, 1985). These positive
attitudes in the elementary school years
tend to encourage exploration of sci-
ence and science-related careers in the
future (Tanner, 1980). Out-of-school
science activities and hands-on learning
experiences are viable mechanisms to
promote science to students (Farenga
and Joyce, 1998), yet many traditional
science programs do not take advantage
of these opportunities (Yager and Mc-
Cormack, 1989).
Most studies that examine the
effectiveness of hands-on experiences
in learning use traditional quantitative
research methodology. These method-
ologies generally provide controlled
isolation of specific variables and al-
low for ease in developing statistical
analysis comparisons of prediction, hy-
pothesis testing, correlations and mean
comparisons in an objective manner
(Bogdan and Biklen, 1992). Qualita-
tive data analysis procedures, however,
collect data in the natural settings in
which they occur focusing on a holistic,
big picture perspective. Supporters of
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• October–December 2003 13(4)
evaluation. Words and ideas relating
to these categories were organized
during the analysis.
ware was chosen for several reasons,
including recommendations from
other social science researchers and the
reported ease of use. However, other
computer programs [e.g., Info Select
(Micro Logic, Midland Park, N.J.),
The Ethnograph (Qualis Research,
Salt Lake City), askSam (askSam Sys-
tems, Perry, Fla.)]have been evaluated
by researchers (Stanley and Temple,
1995) who believe that the suitability
of the computer package depends on
the particular data set.
The NUD*IST software allows
the researcher to work with textual
documents and the organization of
components within the documents.
The software supports theor y building
in qualitative analysis by searching for
key words and phrases quickly for the
researcher. The researcher then has the
ability to organize data hierarchically in
structured trees that index categories
based on the analysis and their own
thoughts related to the analysis.
ect being evaluated using NUD*IST
software, the size of the text unit is an im-
portant consideration during the course
of the research project. Imported data
needs to be broken into units for analysis
and the software allows the researcher to
manipulate the size of the text units that
will be analyzed. In order to differentiate
the size of a text unit, a hard carriage
return is keyed at the end of each text
unit. For this study, each text unit was
made up of one respondent’s answer to a
survey question. Much smaller text unit
segments could have been used, includ-
ing individual sentences or words, but
smaller text units may result in the loss
of context of respondents’ comments
(Buston, 1997).
Headers and subheaders within the
program help the researcher to organize
les and address text units with informa-
tion useful for its identifi cation. Using
headers, a researcher can code docu-
ments with respondents’ demographic
information, the date the information
was gathered, or any other useful com-
ments. For this project, headers were
used to code text units with the school
and teacher that responded to the sur-
vey. It was decided that the question
asked would be used as the subheader,
though many of the responses could be
clearly understood on their own.
nodes to help organize data in a tree-
like structure where main categories
make up a trunk status and subcatego-
ries make up a branch status. NUD*IST
allows for free nodes, as well, when
the data does not break down easily
into main and subcategories. Nodes
can be moved and removed from the
tree-like structures, and developed as
the project progresses.
Researchers and educators have
believed for many years that one
method for instruction and testing is
not suffi cient for critical thinking devel-
opment (Carr, 1990). In 1956, Bloom
developed a classification system for
intellectual behavior as a way of orga-
nizing educational goals and objectives.
It is still commonly used today when
organizing testing instruments (Bloom
et al., 1956). Six levels of competence
are arranged as a hierarchy from least
to most complex (Table 1). Generally,
educational research has agreed that
students progress through the fi rst four
levels from knowledge through analy-
sis, yet the top two levels of synthesis
and evaluation are at similar levels of
difficulty and use different cognitive
processes (Huitt, 1992). The level of
evaluation is thought to be involved in
left-brain, as in problem-solving and
decision-making critical thinking,
while synthesis is thought to be right
brain, as in emotional, intuitive cre-
ative thinking (Springer and Deutsch,
1993). Educators and researchers be-
lieve that productive learning requires
cognition at all levels of Bloom’s tax-
onomy, and that students that are ef-
fective at creative and critical thinking
are better problem-solvers (Duemler
and Mayer, 1988).
ANALYZING.Key words and ideas
that were mentally recalled from the
initial data input were investigated us-
ing NUD*IST software and retrieved,
as were those terms that related to ideas
corresponding to the theoretical frame-
work of Bloom’s taxonomy (Bloom
et al., 1956). During this retrieval, to
gain insight into the intended idea, it
was important to consider the context
in which terms were being used. The
data were then considered on a rela-
tional basis with respect to how the
terms corresponded to the theoretical
framework and to each other.
Results and discussion
Responses indicated strong sup-
port of learning occurring at the Math
as their attitudes toward science and
math. An additional objective was
to illustrate the capabilities of one
computer qualitative data analysis
software, NUD*IST (QSR Inter-
national, Melbourne, Australia), by
analyzing the answers to open-ended
survey questions.
Materials and methods
campus environmental education pro-
gram for elementary schools in Santa
Fe, N.M., called Math and Science in
the Outdoor Classroom, was evaluated
for this study. This program is a 3- to
4-h hands-on laboratory program in
which students have the opportunity to
study topics including insects, weather,
soil, and water. Examples of activities
include a soil texture exercise, an insect
scavenger hunt, an exercise labeling
insect anatomy and an exercise on the
force of water. Teachers participating in
the program are trained by one leader
who heads the Math and Science in
the Outdoor Classroom program and
the teachers administer all laboratory
TATION.Second through fourth grade
teachers from five schools in New
Mexico volunteered their classes for
participation in the study during the
1998–99 school year. The survey tool
was unique to the outdoor program and
included fifteen open-ended interview
questions relating to the effectiveness
of the program, students’ enjoyment
of the program, and students’ per-
ceptions of science and math. One
hundred seventy-five children were
interviewed after they participated
in the program, and were allowed to
answer questions in their own words.
Twenty-one teachers and 75 volunteers
were also interviewed regarding the
impact of the program.
Once survey instruments were
completed and returned, they were
transcribed using Microsoft Word
(Microsoft, Redmond, Wash.). For this
study, all text data, including responses
from students, teachers and volunteers,
were then imported and organized
within the QSR NUD*IST, Revision
4 database. Data were analyzed for re-
sponse trends using Bloom’s taxonomy
(Bloom et al., 1956) as the theoretical
framework. Bloom’s taxonomy states
that children progress through the
stages of knowledge, comprehension,
application, analysis, synthesis, and
RR3 685 8/26/03, 10:55:30 AM
• October–December 2003 13(4)
and Science in the Outdoor Classroom
program. The term learn occurred in
the data set in nearly 20% of the overall
responses. When exploring the data set
using Bloom’s taxonomy as a theo-
retical framework, there was evidence
that respondents felt that participat-
ing students were using both creative
and critical thinking skills. The data
set included terms that were associated
with each level of Bloom’s taxonomy
(Table 2). Terms such as look, listen,
explore, and count were associated with
Bloom’s knowledge level and occurred
in about 50% of responses. Research in
many disciplines has shown that levels
of knowledge of a particular subject
matter affects attitudes which, in turn,
affects behavior (Kooler and Bruvold,
1992; Marietta et al., 1999; Sears et al.,
1988). Therefore, it was encouraging
to find that Math and Science in the
Outdoor Classroom appeared to be ef-
fectively teaching the subject matter.
Bloom’s application level was
where most responses were found to
support the students’ engagement in the
activities. Students applied knowledge
and concepts through graphing, plot-
ting, planting, estimating and measur-
ing. These types of terms occurred in
nearly 87% of responses (Table 2). This
nding supports past research (Braun et
al., 1989) that showed that an outdoor
school garden helped students apply
school lessons to other educational
About 19% of responses indicated
that students were experiencing learning
at Bloom’s analysis level. Terms such as
experiment and investigate occurred in
the data set and indicated that the out-
door program stimulated higher-level
learning (Table 2). Educational benefi ts
have been known to occur in various
types of outdoor programs because of
the experiential learning derived from
the real-world application (Barron,
1993; Kutsunai, 1994).
Table 1. Levels included in Bloom’s taxonomyzof educational objectives, the defi nition of each level and a sampling of be-
haviors associated with each level.
Level included in Defi nition Sample behaviors
Bloom’s taxonomy of level associated with level
Knowledge Observes, recalls or recognizes information, ideas and principles. Write, list, label, name, define, identify, quote
Comprehension Translates, interprets or understands information, ideas and Explain, describe, construct, discuss, differentiate
Application Uses methods, concepts or theories to solve problems in new situations. Apply, show, examine, demonstrate, solve
Analysis Observes patterns or organization of parts, and classifies and relates Categorize, compare, analyze, arrange, classify
this information to a question.
Synthesis Creation of original ideas from the combination of old information. Combine, integrate, plan, substitute, generalize
Evaluation Ability to compare ideas and reason based on the values. Support, test, rank, measure, justify, critique
zBloom et al., 1956.
Table 2. The percentage of occurrencesz of terms relating to each level of Bloom’s
taxonomy (Bloom et al., 1956) including knowledge, comprehension, applica-
tion, analysis, synthesis and evaluation as a result of a text search of interview
data using QSR NUD*IST (Nonnumerical Unstructured Data Indexing Search-
ing and Theory-building) software.
Level of
Bloom’s Occurrence
taxonomy Termz (%)
Knowledge Look/see 12
Listen 2.5
Observe 12
Participate 5.1
Explore 4.7
Identify 0.85
Label 0.42
Count 12
Total 49.57
Comprehension Discuss 3.4
Understand 5.1
Describe 0.42
Express 0.85
Total 9.77
Application Make/create 13.9
Apply 3.8
Discover 4.2
Demonstrate 0.42
Solve 1.3
Add, subtract, multiply, divide 26
Write 1.7
Graph 11
Estimate 1.3
Plant 11.8
Measure 9.3
Plot 0.85
Show 1.3
Total 86.87
Analysis Experiment 17.4
Investigate 1.7
Total 19.1
Evaluation and synthesis Problem-solving 9.7
Integrate 1.7
Plan 1.3
Test 3.4
Support 0.42
Total 26.22
zTerms reported by survey respondents. Those terms that resulted in an occurrence percentage of 0 were not
recorded in this Table.
Bloom’s highest levels of learning
are those of evaluation and synthesis.
Terms relating to these levels occurred
in about 26% of responses, and includ-
ed ideas relating to problem-solving
(9.7%), and testing (3.4%) (Table 2).
This was an exciting finding since edu-
cators believe that students are rarely
RR3 686 8/26/03, 10:55:31 AM
• October–December 2003 13(4)
challenged in academic settings at the
uppermost levels of synthesis and evalu-
ation. Furthermore, students remem-
ber more about subject matter when
they have worked with that topic at a
higher taxonomic level (Bloom et al.,
1956). Past studies in the similar area
of school gardens found that outdoor
experiences aid in problem-solving and
predicting skills (Stetson, 1991), as well
as in understanding abstract concepts
(Kutsunai, 1994).
Themes that arose in the data sup-
ported the idea of positive attitudes
towards learning math and science in
the Math and Science in the Outdoor
Classroom program. Responses indi-
cated that the outdoor program was
enjoyable for the participating children
with terms such as enthusiasm (6.4%),
fun (19%), exciting (3%), new (5.9%),
interesting (12%), and enjoyable (12%)
for a total of 58.3%. Positive attitudes
of youth toward science have been
known to increase student interest
in science and lead those students to
additional science course enrollment,
as well as to consider science-related
occupations (Tanner, 1980; Simpson
and Oliver, 1990; Farenga and Joyce,
1998). Research has shown that el-
ementary-aged children generally have
positive attitudes toward science and
think science is fun, similar to results
in the Math and Science in the Out-
door Classroom study. Junior-high
and high school-aged children tend
to consider science as boring (Yager
and Yager, 1985). However, children
with positive attitudes toward science
in elementary school may eventually
translate into positive attitudes in sec-
ondary school-aged students (Farenga
and Joyce, 1998).
Additional analysis produced other
intriguing ideas within this study. The
notion of experiential learning was a
main theme that respondents reported.
Terms that occurred that supported
this theme included hands-on (17%),
practical (2.1%), and real world/real
life (5.9%). While adults typically see
nature and the landscape as a backdrop
for their activities, children directly
experience and manipulate a natural
environment. Children use the natural
environment as a sensory experience
and interact with it (Sebba, 1991).
Natural elements of plants, animals,
soil, water and rocks provide oppor-
tunities for the exploration of diverse
materials (Moore, 1993).
Negative responses were also
noted. About 10% of respondents re-
ported that students became distracted
and lacked attentiveness. The lives of
children today are very structured and
supervised and with few opportuni-
ties to explore. When children do have
free time, it is often spent in scheduled
sports or lessons, or in front of the
television or computer (Frost and Ja-
cobs, 1995). However, while children
may have appeared inattentive, early
experiences exploring nature through
play have been linked with the develop-
ment of the imagination and a sense of
wonder (Cobb, 1977). Development
in these areas is thought to be an im-
portant motivator for a life long interest
in learning (Wilson, 1997).
Most social science researchers
generally accept one research per-
spective, either quantitative or quali-
tative, to the exclusion of the other.
NUD*IST and other similar qualitative
data analysis systems are tools that sim-
plify data analysis and therefore, pro-
vide a means to use both techniques
with ease. This study aims to promote
the use of qualitative data techniques
within studies relating to human issues
in horticulture, leading to more valid
research in the future.
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RR3 688 8/26/03, 10:55:34 AM
... Among the research studies considered, five were qualitative, for which interviews or questionnaires had been performed with questions for members of the educational community [40,43,45,54,55]. We detected six quantitative [48,50,53,57] and four mixed-method studies [48,50,53,57]. ...
... Finally, two studies analyse productions carried out in the school environment in analogue format: graphs, written answers, and so forth. [46] Not all studies specify which computer tools they use to analyse the instruments: [21,42] use R Studio; [40] used QSR NUD*IST and [50] opted for SPSS. ...
... Unspecified [11,40,42,44,48,49,56] Plants [50,53,55] Amphibians, turtles, and serpents; insects and diseases; fruits and dried fruits, vegetables and herbs. [51] Focus on the natural world, nutrition, and health. ...
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The much-needed interest in promoting a healthy lifestyle among school-age students has found a context for development: school gardens. There are numerous studies where using gardens as a teaching–learning context also improves students’ performance in the experimental sciences. In this study, we proposed another interest that sets it apart and adds motivation: combining curricular mathematics with experimental science content in this context. The search for possible studies in the scientific literature has gave rise to the review presented herein. From this review, we obtained 21 studies, from which we extracted a series of categories: whether research was undertaken and with which tools; which curricular contents were covered and the impact produced; the ages of the participants and duration of the project; and, finally, whether the garden was cultivated. The main conclusion of this search was the lack of a clear line of research linking school gardens, the experimental sciences, and mathematics, in addition to the scant presence of studies framed in this context. For that reason, we send a call to action to the scientific community encouraging the interdisciplinarity of the two aforementioned subjects within the context of school gardens.
... In addition, the use of an outdoor setting as an educational modality was explored by Son et al. (2017), who propounded its use as a means to improve outcomes in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects. Waliczek, Logan, and Zajicek (2003) and Dettweiler, Ünlü, Lauterbach, Becker, and Gschrey (2015) found similar results for pre-adolescent primary-school-aged children in both mathematics and science subjects in an outdoor setting; however, there appears to be an apparent lack of research conducted in this area for the adolescent student population (aged 14 to 18 years). Finally, the use of alternative educational settings as a protective factor for adolescent mental health encourages student autonomy (Dettweiler et al., 2015;Dray et al., 2017;Sibthorp, Paisley, Gookin, & Furman, 2008;Son et al., 2017;Sproule et al., 2013). ...
The purpose of the current study was to investigate whether there was a relationship between self-efficacy (SE), mental well-being (WB), and a connection to nature (CN) as a result of participation in an outdoor adventure education (OAE) program of either five days or 14 days in duration. OAE is defined as education that involves exposure to adventure, or elevated levels of absolute or perceived risk, as a means of developing SE, leadership skills, academic outcomes, and interpersonal skills in students. Due to an increasing number of adolescents experiencing mental health issues and literature suggesting that time spent in nature can improve WB outcomes, further research should be conducted to examine possible nature delivery mediums such as OAE. The current study examined data from 35 male adolescents enrolled in Year 9 in 2019 from two Independent Perth boys’ secondary schools. Participants from both schools undertook similar outdoor activities such as abseiling and hiking, and interpersonal skill development, during their respective OAE programs. Pre- and post-program testing assessed responses from the General Self-efficacy Scale (GSES), Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (WEMWBS), and Connectedness to Nature Scale (CNS). The statistical significance was set at p < 0.05. There was a range of effect sizes within and between program durations, adding support to the literature relating to the benefits of OAE programs for adolescents. However, results did not indicate statistical significance for SE and CN for both durations, but there was a significant positive difference in WB for the 14-day program. Implications from this study may include changing Outdoor Education from an elective to a standalone learning area. This change would require professional development for current or graduate teachers relating to the benefits of OAE on WB. In addition, this study provides evidence to advocate for more OAE curriculum time in order to increase WB benefits as part of the curriculum. Recommendations for further research include an examination of WB outcomes based on gender and whether WB should be a program goal rather than a possible consequence of participation in an OAE program.
... These focus groups were incorporated into the intervention to provide a more holistic insight into the NBE intervention's impact on the HRQoL and STEM capacity. 17,60 The study completed 10 focus groups to collect qualitative data on the SLPS students' engagement, learning outcomes, and experience with the NBE intervention. Focus groups composed of 10-25 children who participated in the NBE intervention. ...
Background: Low-income and non-white children experience disparities in health, education, and access to nature. These health disparities are often associated and exacerbated by inequities in the U.S. educational system. Recent research suggests that nature contact may reduce these health and educational disparities for urban low-income populations. Nature-based education (NBE) uses nature contact to inspire curiosity and improve health. This study examines the health and educational outcomes of a 15-week NBE intervention for urban low-income, black and Hispanic children 10-15 years of age. Methods: Children (n=122) completed a pre-intervention and post-intervention survey that addressed seven science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)-capacity items (leadership, teamwork, science relevance, sustainability relevance, STEM self-efficacy, science interest, and overall STEM capacity) and six widely used health-related quality-of-life (HRQoL) domains (physical health functioning, emotional health functioning, school functioning, social functioning, family functioning, and overall HRQoL). Focus groups with participating students and post-intervention surveys of NBE mentors and teachers explored perceptions of the intervention impact. Results: There were statistically significant positive changes in STEM capacity and HRQoL for participating students. For example, children's overall STEM capacity and overall HRQoL scores improved by 44% and 46%, respectively (both p<0.05). Qualitative data highlighted the intervention's educational and health benefits. Conclusions: These results support further research quantifying the effects of NBE on STEM capacity and HRQoL in urban, low-income, black and Hispanic children.
... In recent years, gardening has regained a reputation for being a beneficial activity for children, and many hopes and aims are targeted to children's gardens ). In school education, for instance, the garden has become appreciated as a diverse learning environment, and research is consistent in reporting on the multiple advantages related to gardening, including social aspects, such as improved, positive attitudes towards school and community, a sense of ownership and pride, and better learning outcomes (Alexander et al., 1995;Waliczek et al., , 2003Rahm, 2002;. Some studies have emphasized the importance of the garden in enabling a close relationship with nature, thereby improving environment-friendly attitudes among children and promoting responsible behavior for a sustainable future . ...
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Nature contact has been acknowledged as beneficial for children’s development and wellbeing, as it is for all humans. At the same time, children’s free play in nature and independent mobility, ‘free-ranging,’ has been declining in Western societies in recent decades. One solution to this dilemma, nature clubs and camps with the aim of introducing and promoting children’s nature contact, are becoming increasingly common. Nature programmes aim to (re-)connect children and nature through educational goals. One example of such a place, the children's garden, is becoming increasingly recognized as a place where adults hope that children will learn various skills and subjects, while simultaneously hoping the children will improve their relationship with nature. Despite the known educational and health benefits of gardening, children's interactions with the actual physical elements of a place are less understood and examined. By recognizing more factors that affect children's process in forming a close, durable and meaningful relationship with natural places like the garden, adults become more capable of appropriately supporting children. The aim of this research was to unravel how children connect with such a natural space, the garden by looking at the place-specific affordances. The concept of affordances is the key to this study; it refers to the physical elements of the environment that reveal opportunities for interaction once they have been perceived. The research comprises two parts. The first phase of the study evaluated Finnish primary school children’s relationship with plants and nature, by comparing rural/suburban and boys’/girls’ attitudes and knowledge about plants and favourite places. The comparison was conducted through a survey of 76 children. Using mixed methods, the statistical analysis included paired cross tabulation, and chi-square-tests (χ2) to measure the significance of differences among the groups rural/suburban, and boys/girls. The second part of the study consisted of qualitative fieldwork with ethnographic participant and non-participant observations throughout summers 2008-2010 in the Kumpula School Garden in Helsinki. In order to study the phenomenon of how children make their connection to nature through place-based affordances, the study leans on an interpretivist ontology that views reality as understandable by observing actors within their social context. To assess the child-centred potential of a garden environment for building connection to nature, I examined the affordances in a garden camp context, focusing on 6- to 11-year-old, inexperienced children (~40 participants for each year of the study). The long-term fieldwork generated outstanding data: field reports and notes, videos, photographs and children’s drawings and interviews. Grounded theory method (GT) was applied in studies II and III. Analysis followed the GT analytical procedure of open coding, selective coding and theoretical coding. In GT, the initial basis for the study is to understand a particular social phenomenon in order to build a theory upon it. Inductive and repeated analysis focused on the children’s actions in combination with the actual natural affordances. In formulating the theory, the findings of garden affordances for children were evaluated relatively with these theoretical concepts: environmental child-friendliness (ECF), the zone of proximal development (ZPD), behavioural insideness, and connectedness to nature/place. Firstly, the results in study I showed that the relationship between nature and greenery differs according to residence and gender. The children living in a rural area (N= 34 in Paltamo, Kainuu) were more likely to mention natural places as their favourites than did their suburban counterparts (N=42 in Helsinki). Illustratively, rural children claimed to know the forest trees by name more often than the suburban children. In addition, the rural children understood mankind as part of nature, whereas suburban children were more likely to disagree with this claim. The group differences reported were statistically significant. The girls were, in general, more interested in plants than the boys. Alarmingly, 36% of the boys did not understand that plants are essential for human life. The girls understood better that plants are vital for human life. Second, results in the following studies II and III in the garden camp context showed that the versatility of affordances offered plenty of opportunities for building the nature-child relationship. The garden fostered social interactions by offering plentiful materials in a varied space. The variability and abundance of affordances boosted ZPD through scaffolding – learning together and from more experienced peers while using the affordances proved noteworthy in learning and passing on new skills. The essential factors that had a contributory role in the process of becoming empowered players within the setting were: sufficient time, the possibility of child-directed play and a space with a versatility of affordances available for use. With these factors, the garden affordances brought about 14 various play types. Trees were the most significant elements of the research site in fostering a relationship with nature. They answered children’s situational and individual needs by offering ideas, challenge, materials, and space for play. Wooden material affordances offered props and loose parts for different play needs. The trees possessed qualities equivalent to children’s needs for building self-confidence and emotion regulation, competence and belonging, creativity, excitement and affection. Climbing trees offered the children the challenge of handling risks autonomously. Consequently, trees serve well as indicator plants in assessing the children's connectedness to place. The children’s whole process of connecting with the place was captured, and the actual phases of this evolving connectedness are presented. Along with the concept of behavioural insideness that represents the behaviour of a child when she/he feels connected with a place, this study identifies the preceding phases: the initial phase as outsiders, then searchers, and finally the proactive insiders. In the first phase, as an outsider, the still insecure children looked for comfort around the vegetation. Tall trees were visibly inviting, offering an asylum or a shield before the children gained the confidence to start the searcher phase. The searchers, as the name implies, were constantly exploring their surroundings and the phase also involved showing off one's skills to make friends. For the searchers, the garden affordances offered versatility for choosing suitable materials and space. The biodiversity of the place was key to satisfying children’s needs by offering suitable affordances; it successfully fostered the development of behavioural insideness within two weeks, and this ultimately led to a strong connectedness to place. In the last phase as insiders, long-term play utilizing a wide variety of natural materials was typical, and the children behaved both spontaneously and imaginatively. The adults and peers had an effect on the children's connection process and to the actualization of garden's affordances, affecting the ECF. Impetus, which triggered the use of affordances, was either personal or situational. Some of the obstacles came from personal shortcomings, such as lack of interest or experience, or from fears and/or dislikes. Common obstacles from adults included a desire to move forward with the planned programme or an appeal to safety and rules. The development of a grounded theory, the IAO theory, outlines possible combinations of place-based impetuses, obstacles and affordances, all of which have an effect on the children’s process of connecting to place. The theory is an equation, which makes it user-friendly in assessing and planning children’s nature-based activities and environments. In addition, the theoretical framework of ‘Affordances channel connectedness to place’ opens up the external and internal preconditions necessary for children before they start utilizing the existing affordances, their three-phased process towards connectedness to place, and the manifestations of the final stage, behavioural insideness. Finally, a child-centred implication, PIT (Place-based, Intention and Time), provides guidelines to help adults to plan and conduct place-based, situational-sensitive nature activities for children. With these three GT outcomes, children’s connection to nature can be well supported.
... Σχολικά µαθήµατα όπως τα µαθηµατικά, η διατροφή και η περιβαλλοντική εκπαίδευση διδάσκονται µέσω εµπειριών πραγµατικής ζωής και πρακτικών κηπουρικής (Eames-Sheavly, 1999;Lineberger και Zajicek, 2000. Skelly andZajicek, 1998;Waliczek et al., 2003). Στον εξωτερικό χώρο η περιβαλλοντική εκπαίδευση µπορεί να γίνει µε τη χρήση κήπων και ειδικότερα συνδέονται παραδοσιακά µε το περιβάλλον, τη διατήρηση της βιολογικής κατάστασης και την εκπαίδευση, καθώς συνήθως περιέχουν συλλογές φυτών και ζώων για εκπαίδευση και προβολή. ...
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Τα τελευταία χρόνια έχουμε δει ριζικές αλλαγές και ταχείες εξελίξεις στην επιστήμη, τη γνώση, την τεχνολογία και το ευρύτερο περιβάλλον. Αυτές οι αλλαγές προκαλούν τροποποιήσεις στα συστήματα αξίας και γενικά σε ποικίλους τομείς της ανθρώπινης δραστηριότητας. Για τους λόγους αυτούς, η Περιβαλλοντική Εκπαίδευση, ως εκπαίδευση είναι πλέον προσανατολισμένη προς τη βιώσιμη ανάπτυξη. Η επιβολή της Περιβαλλοντικής Εκπαίδευσης είναι πλέον δεδομένη σε όλες τις βαθμίδες εκπαίδευσης. Στην Ελλάδα περιέχεται σε ποικίλα μαθήματα της Α/θμιας και Β/θμιας Εκπαίδευσης και ιδιαίτερα σε αυτά των φυσικών επιστημών. Η Περιβαλλοντική Εκπαίδευση απορρέει μέσα από θέματα που άπτονται του φυσικού, κοινωνικού, πολιτιστικού και οικονομικού περιβάλλοντος. Όλοι οι μαθητές συμπεριλαμβανομένων και των παιδιών με ειδικές εκπαιδευτικές ανάγκες ή αναπηρία έχουν δικαίωμα συμμετοχής σε προγράμματα Περιβαλλοντικής Εκπαίδευσης. Η ενσωμάτωσή τους υπό το πρίσμα της συμπερίληψης και της συνεκπαίδευσης, της φιλοσοφίας και τις αρχές που διέπουν την ένταξη και τη Περιβαλλοντική Εκπαίδευση δίνει την ευκαιρία να αντιμετωπίσουν την οικολογική κρίση, να βελτιώσουν το επίπεδο γνώσεων, ικανοτήτων/δεξιοτήτων και συμπεριφοράς/στάσεων αλλά και μιας ανάπτυξης με πολύπλευρο και εκπαιδευτικό χαρακτήρα. Στην ουσία πρόκειται για δύο νευραλγικούς τομείς που παρουσιάζουν κοινά σημεία ως προς τους στόχους που έχουν να υλοποιήσουν. Για να επιτευχθούν οι παραπάνω διαδικασίες σημαντικό ρόλο διαδραματίζει ο εκπαιδευτικός με τις προσωπικές θεωρίες του και ειδικότερα τις αντιλήψεις που έχει για την εφαρμογή και την αξιοποίηση προγραμμάτων Περιβαλλοντικής Εκπαίδευσης σε παιδιά με ειδικές εκπαιδευτικές ανάγκες ή αναπηρία. Κύριος σκοπός της παρούσας έρευνας είναι να αναδείξει και να διερευνήσει τις αντιλήψεις των εκπαιδευτικών Α/θμιας και Β/θμιας Εκπαίδευσης για την χρησιμότητα της Περιβαλλοντικής Εκπαίδευσης σε παιδιά με ειδικές εκπαιδευτικές ανάγκες ή αναπηρία σε ειδικά σχολεία και σε σχολεία με τμήματα ένταξης του νομού Ιωαννίνων. Λέξεις κλειδιά: Περιβαλλοντική Εκπαίδευση, Ειδική Αγωγή και Εκπαίδευση, παιδιά με Ειδικές Εκπαιδευτικές Ανάγκες, συμπερίληψη, αντιλήψεις εκπαιδευτικών, Ελλάδα
Meaningful and enjoyable experiences are important in the education of children. In this qualitative case study, the garden program (incl. market garden shop, garden care, Kid’s Kitchen, and chicken coop) in one Australian primary school was explored to determine its impact on the mathematical learning of children. Data were collected using focus groups (four student, three parent and three volunteer groups), three teacher interviews, weekly garden journal entries and, when possible, through observation. This program provided opportunities for enriched mathematical learning facilitated by: early exposure to mathematical applications through mixed-age groups at different stations; an authentic, real-life setting to apply mathematical learning; and the consolidation of mathematical experiences through weekly engagement. These program features were found to positively impact the mathematical readiness, attitudes and competence of students.
School gardens are considered non-formal learning settings and a source of experiential learning and have been used to teach core academic subjects such as science, history, art, language, and mathematics in a hands-on, experiential learning environment. More recently, some schools have promoted school gardens as outreach programs intended to help underprivileged citizens. The author reports on a study which explored how school gardens involved in urban garden initiatives addressed the issue of social justice. Findings indicate that the urban garden initiative started with a school garden and moved outward into the community. Students were empowered, as well as the school’s extended community through good nutrition, the experience of successfully growing food, and the relationships formed in the process. In addition to fostering environmental stewardship and community building, the school garden program addressed the issue of hunger and poverty within and beyond the school walls and into the wider community. Environmental stewardship, food security, youth empowerment, and proper nutrition are some outcomes of this urban agriculture initiative.
Despite the positive effects of gardening on student health and academic performance, garden-based learning continues to face resistance from school administrators and teachers. In this article, the authors share teachers’ perspectives and offer recommendations.
With this study, the contribution of the waste management themed summer program, which includes enriched activities considering the learning needs of gifted students, has contributed to the students’ environmental attitudes, creative thinking skills and critical thinking dispositions. A five-day program was applied to gifted (n = 29) fifth grade students. Data were collected by means of scales before and after the program and paired samples were analyzed by t-test. As a result of the analysis, it was found that the applied program created a difference in favor of the posttest, on students’ environmental attitudes, creative thinking skills and critical thinking dispositions. One of the important results of this study is that summer programs, which are among the out-of-school learning environments, contribute to the attitudes and cognitive development of gifted/talented students.
Whether computer assisted data collection methods should be used for survey data collection is no longer an issue. Most professional research organizations, commercial, government and academic, are adopting these new methods with enthusiasm. Computer assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) is most prevalent, and computer assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) is rapidly gaining in popularity. Also, new forms of electronic reporting of data using computers, telephones and voice recognition technology are emerging. This paper begins with a taxonomy of current computer assisted data collection methods. It then reviews conceptual and theoretical arguments and empirical evidence on such topics as: (1) respondents and interviewer acceptance of new techniques, (2) effect of computer assisted interviewing on data quality, (3) consequences for survey costs and (4) centralized vs. decentralized deployment of CATI.
A science-based overview of brain asymmetry, Left Brain, Right Brain is an introduction to contemporary research on brain–behavior relationships. Exploring normal, split-brain, and brain-damaged cases, it focuses on such key issues as left-handedness, sex differences, psychiatric illness, learning disabilities, and theories of consciousness. Thoroughly revised and updated, with an increased emphasis on the interdisciplinary field of cognitive neuroscience, the 5th edition of this guide also covers: current neuroimaging techniques, incuding a color photo insert of neuroimaging findings; the growing interest in conscious and unconscious mental operations; and the latest discoveries concerning cerebral hemispheric organization and its relationship to mental function. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
ADDITIONAL INDEX WORDS. Elementary education, gardening, children, experiential learning, environmental education. SUMMARY. While gardening is the number one hobby in the United States, elementary schools are just beginning to explore the use of school gardens as a means to enhance classroom learning. School gardens can reinforce classroom instruction by offering opportunities for experiential learning. The benefits of experiential learning allow for a better under-standing of concepts as the hands-on approach provides meaningful and tangible experiences. While many teachers have anecdotally attested to the benefits of school gardens, there is little empirical evidence documenting their impact. In Fall 1997, the University of Florida hosted a competition for the best elementary school garden in Florida. Results from a research questionnaire completed by participating teachers indicated that teachers used school gardens infre-quently, with the majority using the garden as an instructional tool no more than 10% of the time. Many teachers did, however, indicate that school gardens were used for environ-mental education (97.1%) and experiential learning (72.9%), and 84.3 % of teachers said that related activities enhanced student learning. Findings also indicate that the teachers surveyed had relatively new gardens and teachers lacked, or were unaware of educational resources to assist with garden learning. This paper describes and interprets the results of the teacher questionnaire.
The Master Gardener Classroom Garden Project provides many inner-city children in the San Antonio Independent School District with an experiential way of learning about horticulture, gardening, themselves, and their relationships with their peers. To evaluate the benefits of participation in the Classroom Garden Project, data was collected on 52 second and third grade students. Qualitative interviews indicate that participation in the gardening project has had many positive effects on the school children. The children have gained pleasure from watching the products of their labor flourish, and have had the chance to increase interactions with their parents and other adults. In addition, the children have learned the anger and frustration that occur when things of value are harmed out of neglect or violence.