Factors that Affect Teachers' Use of School Gardening in the Elementary School Curriculum

in HortScience
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  • 1 Virginia Polytechnic Inst. and State Univ., Blacksburg, VA 24061

A national survey was conducted of teachers who use school gardening and horticulture as a teaching strategy to enhance student learning within a educational curriculum. The surveyed teachers are employed by schools that were recipients of a Youth Gardening Grant from the National Gardening Assn. in the 1994–95 and 1995–96 school years. The intent of this survey was to define the factors that are crucial to the successful implementation of school gardening into the elementary school curriculum as determined by educators who have already implemented such a program. The survey also described the characteristics of school gardening experiences at these elementary schools. Personal interviews with experienced school gardening educators in Virginia and Maryland verified survey results. Educators reported that the factors most responsible for school gardening success were a person responsible for school gardening activities, a growing site, and funding. Support of the principal and the availability of gardening equipment were also highly rated as success factors. Teachers indicated that, although these factors are important, they are not necessarily available at their individual schools. Responses also included an enormous listing of resources used by teachers to meet their school gardening needs. The survey overwhelmingly indicated that experienced educators view school gardening as a successful teaching strategy to enhance student learning. However, educators rely primarily on their personal knowledge of gardening to implement learning experiences with their students. Teachers feel that although their personal gardening knowledge is adequate, they are greatly interested in continued education in the use of school gardening and horticulture, either as in-service training, Master Gardener training, or for continuing education credit.

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