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  • Author or Editor: M.J. McFarland x
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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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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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Although some benefits of gardening have been documented, motivations regarding participation in gardening are often considered based on anecdote. The purpose of this study was to use qualitative analysis to explore reasons gardeners from different genders and generations participate in gardening. The questions developed for this study were intentionally exploratory and left open-ended to gather a large variety of responses. Surveys were collected from 177 individuals between the ages of 7 and 94 years old. Responses were categorized into themes identified through the literature review, the pilot study, and through exploration of the data. Responses could fit into as many categories as were mentioned by the respondents and were categorized by three independent coders. Interrater reliability was assessed using a two-way mixed, absolute agreement, average measures intraclass correlation (ICC) and determined the degree to which coders provided consistency in their ratings across participants. Themes developed through this survey included “social interaction,” “aesthetics,” “food availability/health/nutrition,” “economics,” “therapeutic,” “environmental benefits,” “nostalgia,” and “personal productivity.” Themes of personal productivity and nostalgia are those which have not occurred in previous research. Statistically significant differences were found in comparisons among males and females with more males gardening for food/health/nutrition and for reasons regarding nostalgia. More females reported gardening for personal productivity when compared with males. No significant difference was identified in comparisons of gardeners from various age groups indicating that gardeners across generations have similar intentions and receive similar benefits.

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New dietary guidelines recommend eating more than five servings of fruit and vegetables each day without setting upper limitations. Although older adults tend to report a higher intake of fruit and vegetables than other age groups, over half of the U.S. older population does not meet the recommendation of five daily servings of fruit and vegetables. Research has shown that gardening is one way of improving fruit and vegetable intake. The primary focuses of this study were to examine and compare fruit and vegetable consumption of gardeners and nongardeners and to investigate any differences in fruit and vegetable consumption of long-term gardeners when compared with newer gardeners in adults older than age 50 years. An online survey was designed to be answered by older adults (50 years or older) and respondents self-selected themselves for inclusion in the study. A total of 261 questionnaires was completed. Data collected were analyzed using statistical procedures, including descriptive statistics, Pearson's product-moment correlations, and multivariate analysis of variance. The results of this research supports previous studies that indicated gardeners were more likely to consume vegetables when compared with nongardeners. However, these results were not found with regard to fruit consumption between gardeners and nongardeners. Additionally, the length of time an individual reported having participated in gardening activities seemed to have no relationship to the number of vegetables and fruit reported as consumed, which suggests gardening intervention programs late in life would be an effective method of boosting vegetable and fruit consumption in older adults. Gender was also evaluated with no statistically significant differences found for overall fruit and vegetable intake.

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The purpose of this study was to determine if participation in the National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) Schoolyard Habitat Program (SYHP) had an effect on the science standardized test scores or science grades of fourth-grade primary school students in Houston, TX. To conduct the study, five pairs of Houston elementary schools were selected as either treatment or control schools. The treatment group included a total of 148 fourth-grade students whose teachers reported using the NWF’s SYHP. The control group consisted of a total of 248 fourth-grade students whose teachers used a traditional science curriculum. To measure academic achievement, scores on a standardized science test and science grades were compared between the treatment and control students. Results from this study indicated Caucasian students scored higher than minority students on the Stanford standardized science exam. Significant differences existed in the Stanford standardized science exam scores between male and female students for the treatment group only. Overall, the results from this study also showed that the SYHP was equally as effective at science instruction as the traditional curriculum within the Houston Independent School District (HISD) after teachers gained familiarity with using the habitat for instruction.

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