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A.E. Pigg, T.M. Waliczek, and J.M. Zajicek

Science and math achievement scores of third, fourth, and fifth grade elementary students were studied using a sample of 196 students from McAuliffe Elementary School, located in McAllen, Texas. The experimental group of students participated in a school garden program in addition to traditional classroom-based math and science methods, while students within the control group were taught math and science using only traditional classroom-based methods. No statistically significant differences were found in comparisons of science students' achievement scores, indicating that those students using the school garden program as an additional method to learn science benefited similarly to those who learned using only traditional science classroom-based instruction. However, results indicated statistically significant differences in comparisons of students' math achievement scores, showing that those students who received traditional math instruction had more improved math achievement scores compared to those taught using the school garden program. Results also found no statistically significant differences between gender and ethnic background comparisons. However, statistically significant differences in comparisons of grade levels showed that fourth graders benefited more, academically, from participation in the school garden program in comparison to other grade levels.

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A.L. McFarland, T.M. Waliczek, and J.M. Zajicek

Researchers have found that students' perception of their overall academic experience and the campus environment is related to academic accomplishment. Additionally, studies have found that the designed environment of the university can influence the degree of stress students may feel. The main objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between undergraduate university student use of campus green spaces and their perceptions of quality of life at a university in Texas. A total of 2334 students or 10% of the undergraduate student body received e-mails with information regarding the incentive for participation and instructions on accessing an online survey. The survey included questions that related to student use of campus green spaces, overall quality of life statements, an instrument to measure the quality of life of university students, and demographic questions. A total of 373 surveys was collected and analyzed to compare levels of quality of life of university students and the level of usage of campus green spaces. Demographic information collected allowed controlling for student grade classification, gender, and ethnicity. Frequency statistics determined that, on average, more than half the students were ranked as “high-users” of the campus green spaces, and very few students were considered “low-users.” Frequency statistics also determined that most students rated their overall quality of life and quality of life of university students positively. Additionally, this study found that undergraduate student use of campus green spaces and perceptions of quality of life were related to each other.

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A.L. McFarland, T.M. Waliczek, and J.M. Zajicek

Students' perception of their overall academic experience and the campus environment is related to academic accomplishment, and research has found that the designed environment of the university can influence the degree of stress students may feel. Past research found that undergraduate student use of campus green spaces and perceptions of quality of life were related to each other. The main objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between graduate student use of campus green spaces and their perceptions of quality of life at a university in Texas. A total of 347 of 3279 (≈10%) of the graduate student body received e-mails with information regarding the incentive for participation and instructions on accessing an on-line survey. The survey included questions that related to student use of campus green spaces, overall quality of life statements, an instrument to measure the quality of life of university students, and demographic questions. A total of 79 (22.8% response rate) graduate student questionnaires were collected and analyzed to compare perceptions of quality of life of university students and the level of individual usage of campus green spaces. Descriptive statistics determined that, unlike undergraduates who were primarily “high users” of campus green spaces, graduate students were about equally split between being “low,” “medium,” and “high users” of campus green spaces. However, graduate students still ranked their quality of life highly. Finally, this study found that, unlike undergraduates, graduate students did not have a statistically significant relationship between green-user scores and perception of quality of life scores. It may be that graduate students have less time to spend in outdoor spaces, yet still meet their quality of life needs through other means such as academic achievements.

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Aime J. Sommerfeld, Tina M. Waliczek, and Jayne M. Zajicek

A questionnaire based on the Life Satisfaction Inventory A (LSIA) was used to investigate older adult (age 50+ years) gardeners' and nongardeners' perceptions of personal life satisfaction and levels of physical activity. The LSIA measures five components of quality of life: “zest for life,” “resolution and fortitude,” “congruence between desired and achieved goals,” “physical, psychological, and social self-concept,” and “optimism.” Additional multiple-choice questions were asked to determine respondents' level of physical activity, perceptions of overall health and well-being as well as to gather demographic information. The survey was posted on a university homepage for ≈1 month. Responses were gathered from 298 participants who differentiated themselves as gardeners or nongardeners by responding positively or negatively to the question “do you garden?” Results indicated statistically significant differences in comparisons of overall life satisfaction scores with gardeners receiving higher mean scores indicating more positive results on the LSIA. Four individual quality-of-life statements included in the LSIA yielded statistically significantly more positive answers by gardeners when compared with nongardeners. Other questions regarding healthful practices revealed that personal reports of physical activity and perceptions of personal health were statistically significantly more positive among gardeners when compared with nongardeners.

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Jennifer DeWolfe, T.M. Waliczek, and J.M. Zajicek

Researchers wonder what it takes to improve athlete performance. Research has suggested that plants reduce anxiety, and reduced anxiety could, in turn, improve athletic performance. Research also shows that plants have psychological and restorative value such as improving coping mechanisms in human subjects as well as the potential to improve concentration and focus attention that could affect performance of athletes. The main objective of this research was to investigate the impact of greenery/landscaping on athletic performance and cognitive and somatic anxiety in track and field athletes. Four university track and field teams and 128 athletes participated in the study. Individual athlete performance and athletes' scores on the competitive state anxiety inventory-2 (CSAI-2) cognitive and somatic anxiety tests were collected from seven track meets that occurred during one spring competition season. Greenness/landscaping level was determined by Likert scale rating averages from professional horticulturists who individually rated each site. A regression analysis found that greenness level was a predictor (P = 0.000) of best performance by athletes. More of the athletes' best performance marks were at the track and field site that had the highest greenery rating, and many of the athletes' worst performance marks were achieved at the site that had the lowest greenery rating. Results also indicated that all athletes performed better at the more vegetated track and field site regardless of event and level of anxiety. All athletes performed similarly at each of the track and field sites regardless of ethnicity, gender, or grade classification. However, the overall average mean anxiety scores for all the athletes involved in this study were somewhat high in comparison with the instrument-normed scores for both the cognitive and somatic anxiety scales.

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T.M. Waliczek, Roxanne Boyer, and J.M. Zajicek

Texas Master Gardeners participating in an Annual Master Gardener Advanced Training Conference held in College Station, Texas, in June 2000 were asked to complete a survey investigating the impact of the Master Gardener program on perceptions of quality of life and motivations for becoming a Master Gardener. A retrospective pretest/posttest was used to compare the gardeners' current perceptions and their perceptions prior to becoming a Master Gardener. After becoming Master Gardeners, participants reported statistically significant improvements in areas relating to quality of life including physical activity, social activity, self-esteem, and nutrition. Comparisons between demographic characteristics and perceived quality of life scores showed no significant differences. Reasons associated with gaining horticultural information were the primary motivations for becoming a Master Gardener.

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C.D. Klemmer, T.M. Waliczek, and J.M. Zajicek

School gardens show promise as a tool for developing science process skills through real-world investigations. However, little research data exist attesting to their actual effectiveness in enhancing students' science achievement. The purpose of this study was to develop three cognitive test instruments for assessing science achievement gain of third, fourth, and fifth grade students using a garden curriculum. The development of the test instruments occurred in three phases: 1) an initial set of test instruments which served as a prototype for length, scope, and format; 2) an adapted set of test instruments which were piloted; and 3) a final set of test instruments which were used for the assessment of the school gardening curriculum. The final Cronbach's alpha reliability for the final set of test questions was 0.82, indicating an acceptable level of internal consistency. Content validity of the test instruments developed for this study was established based on the science content standards specified in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for each grade level along with the gardening curriculum, as well as the Science Scope and Sequence documents for Temple, Texas Independent School District (ISD). Construct validity was established for the testing instruments by soliciting help from various curriculum experts from the Temple ISD.

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C.D. Klemmer, T.M. Waliczek, and J.M. Zajicek

Science achievement of third, fourth, and fifth grade elementary students was studied using a sample of 647 students from seven elementary schools in Temple, Texas. Students in the experimental group participated in school gardening activities as part of their science curriculum in addition to using traditional classroom-based methods. In contrast, students in the control group were taught science using traditional classroom-based methods only. Students in the experimental group scored significantly higher on the science achievement test compared to the students in the control group. No statistical significance was found between girls and boys in the experimental group, indicating that gardening was equally effective at teaching science for both genders. After separating the data into the grade levels, the garden curriculum was more effective as a teaching method in raising science achievement scores for boys in third and fifth grades, and for girls in the fifth grade compared to traditional classroom-based methods alone.

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Melanie M. Migura, J.M. Zajicek, and L.A. Whittlesey

More than one million people were incarcerated in U.S. prisons at the end of June 1995. Increasing emphasis has been placed on inmate rehabilitation with society's realization that 95% of those incarcerated will be released from prison and returned to society. The responsibility of undertaking the rehabilitation process lies in part with vocational programs, one of which is horticulture. In addition to developing job skills, horticulture may provide another viable means of rehabilitation in the form of horticultural therapy. The women's Federal Prison Camp in Bryan, Texas, implemented the Master Gardener program as part of its vocational training program in March 1991. The prison's Master Gardener program is sponsored by the Texas Agricultural Extension Service and constitutes a horticultural therapy program. More than 225 inmates have completed the program; however, the effectiveness in inmate rehabilitation brought about by such programs has not been extensively documented. Consequently, our objectives were to determine the effects of participation in the Master Gardener program on the locus of control, self-esteem, and life satisfaction of female inmates. About 80 inmates were administered a pretest before the Master Gardener program and an identical posttest at its conclusion. The 55-item questionnaire included a biographical section, a locus of control inventory, a self-esteem inventory, and a life satisfaction inventory. Data were analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences. Results examine the relationship between the Master Gardener program and the psychological well-being of the female inmates at the Federal Prison Camp in Bryan, Texas.

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T.M. Waliczek, J.M. Zajicek, and R.D. Lineberger

A survey based on the Life Satisfaction Inventory A (LSIA) was used to investigate gardeners' and nongardeners' perceptions of life satisfaction. The LSIA was developed in 1961 by Neugarten and measures five components of quality of life including zest for life, resolution and fortitude, congruence between desired and achieved goals, high physical, psychological and social self-concept, and a happy optimistic mood tone. The survey was posted for four months on one of the largest online resources for Texas Master Gardeners within the Aggie Horticulture network, the Texas Master Gardener Web page (http:aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/mastergd/mg.html). During the 4 months, 402 responses were gathered. Additionally, identical `paper/pencil' format surveys were distributed to garden, church, social and community groups with about 400 responses received. In each group of participants, respondents differentiated themselves as gardeners or nongardeners by responding positively or negatively to the survey question, Do you garden? Results indicated statistically significant differences in comparisons of the overall life satisfaction scores with gardeners receiving higher mean scores indicating more positive results on the LSIA. When responses to individual statements were analyzed, results indicated statistically significant differences on 20% of the statements. Differences were detected on statements relating to energy levels, optimism, zest for life, and physical self-concept with gardeners answering more positively on all statements when compared to nongardeners' responses. Additionally, gardeners rated their overall health and their physical activity levels higher than did nongardeners.