An After-school Gardening Club to Promote Fruit and Vegetable Consumption among Fourth Grade Students: The Assessment of Social Cognitive Theory Constructs

in HortTechnology

An eight-lesson gardening and nutrition curriculum with a hands-on gardening emphasis was taught as an after-school program to determine the effect it had on increasing children's nutrition knowledge, fruit and vegetable preference, and improving children's self-efficacy and outcome expectations for gardening and for consuming fruit and vegetables. Seventeen fourth grade students participated in the experimental group as part of an after-school gardening club, and 21 fourth grade students served as the control group. Nutrition knowledge, preference, self-efficacy, outcome expectations, as well as demographic measures were obtained at baseline and end-program. There were no differences in nutrition knowledge scores between or within groups at baseline or at end-program. However, baseline scores were high (>7 out of 10 possible) for both groups. Both groups indicated a high preference for fruit at baseline and end-program. Vegetable preference did not increase over the course of the program for both groups. At baseline, measurements of gardening self-efficacy and outcome expectations were significantly different between the groups. The experimental group was able to maintain high self-efficacy and outcome expectations scores during the program, but the control group's scores increased significantly for gardening self-efficacy and outcome expectations at the end-program assessment. Further research to clarify aspects of gardening (i.e., season, harvesting, crops grown) that have the greatest impact on influencing preference, self-efficacy and outcome expectations is needed.

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