Performance of college-level floral design students was compared using a sample of 140 students from Texas A&M University. The experimental group was enrolled in the online version of the course, while the control group was enrolled in the traditional version of the course. Students in both groups were asked to fill out surveys at the beginning and end of the semester. In addition, student floral designs were evaluated at the beginning and end of the semester, and student grades were compared at the end of the semester. No statistically significant differences were noted in terms of student course satisfaction. However, differences were noted in course grades, with those enrolled in the traditional section of the course outperforming those in the online section. Overall, the students in both sections of the course did well in terms of grades, floral design skill scores, and course satisfaction. Results indicated that certain student characteristics may be indicators for student success in online courses.
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.
The kinderGARDEN website (http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/KINDER/index.html) was developed as part of the Aggie Horticulture network. Its focus was to help incorporate fun garden activities into the home and school lives of children. The page has grown to include pages on school gardens, community gardens, botanical gardens, and a fun page for kids. The site focuses toward providing information on activities and curricula developed for children. A survey, designed to investigate the perceptions of parents and teachers working with youth in gardening situations on the benefits of children gardening, is included on the site. Adults who work with children in any type of gardening situation can respond to the survey via e-mail. Questions on the survey relay information about the type of gardening situation in which the children participate, how many children are involved, the types of crops grown, the relationship of the adult to the child, and what kinds of benefits the adults observe in the children. Results and conclusions of the survey instrument will be presented. The positive aspects and drawbacks of this research technique will be discussed.
Retail sales of container gardens have increased dramatically in recent years, rising 8% from 2004 to 2005, to $1.3 billion. The objective of this study was to determine consumer preferences for three attributes of container gardens; color harmony, price, and amount of care information provided with the purchase. A hierarchical set of levels for each attribute was used in a 3 × 3 × 3 factorial conjoint analysis. A Web-based survey was conducted on 18 Oct. 2006 with 985 respondents. Survey participants were asked to complete a series of questions on a 7-point Likert scale. Survey participants also answered questions about past experiences with and future purchase intentions of container gardens as well as demographics. The three attributes accounted for 99.8% of the variance in container garden preference. Relative importance decreased from price (71%) to amount of care information (23%) to color harmony (6%). Survey participants preferred a container garden with a price point of $24.99, extensive care information, and complementary color harmony. A large portion (76%) of participants in this study indicated that they would be more likely to purchase a container garden if extensive care information was included with the purchase and 85% of participants said they would be willing to visit an Internet Web site that would provide more information on how to care for and maintain a container garden. Results of this study show that there is a potential to increase the value of a container garden through providing educational material with the purchase.
A job satisfaction survey was posted on the Internet and administered to office workers in Texas and the Midwest. The survey included questions regarding job satisfaction, physical work environments, the presence or absence of live interior plants and windows, environmental preferences of the office workers, and demographic information. Approximately 450 completed responses were included in the final sample. Data were analyzed to compare levels of job satisfaction of employees who worked in office spaces with live interior plants or window views of exterior green spaces and employees who worked in office environments without live plants or windows. Statistically significant differences (P < 0.05) were found regarding perceptions of overall life quality, overall perceptions of job satisfaction, and in the job satisfaction subcategories of “nature of work,” “supervision,” and “coworkers” among employees who worked in office spaces with live interior plants or window views and those employees who worked in office environments without live plants or windows. Findings indicated that individuals who worked in offices with plants and windows reported that they felt better about their job and the work they performed. This study also provided evidence that those employees who worked in offices that had plants or windows reported higher overall quality-of-life scores. Multivariate analysis of variance comparisons indicated that there were no statistically significant differences among the categories of “age,” “ethnicity,” “salary,” “education levels,” and “position” among employees who worked in offices with or without plants or window views. However, there were gender differences in comparisons of males in that male participants in offices with plants rated job satisfaction statements higher when compared with males working in offices with no plants. No differences were found in comparisons of female respondents.
A comprehensive survey of American and Canadian universities that offer masters, doctoral, or both degrees in horticulture resulted in responses from 27 academic units. Units were surveyed regarding types of degrees offered, admissions policies, demographic characteristics of students, financial assistance provided to students, faculty ranks and salaries, and metrics by which the programs were evaluated by university administration. About 80% of the programs resided in 1862 Morrill Act land-grant institutions (LG) with the remainder housed in other non-land-grant institutions (NLG). Thirty-eight percent of reporting LG programs existed as stand-alone horticulture departments, whereas horticulture programs were combined with other disciplines in the remainder. Admissions criteria were most consistent among LG programs. Participation in distance education programs was low, but growing. Financial support of graduate students was more common in LG programs. Most schools offered some sort of tuition reduction to those students on assistantships/fellowships and offered health insurance options. Payment of fees was rare and the level of stipends provided varied substantially among programs. International student enrollment was greatest at LG programs and had remained steady in recent years. Gender equity was present among graduate students, with nearly equal male and female enrollment. Most graduate students at both LG (63.6%) and NLG (75.0%) programs were non-Hispanic White; although overall minority enrollment had increased but was still not similar in distribution to that of the general U.S. population. Professors (46.7%) and Associate Professors (28.3%) dominated the faculty ranks while Assistant Professors (19.3%) and lecturers/instructors (5.7%) constituted a much smaller portion of the faculty. Faculty salaries varied tremendously among institutions, especially for senior faculty. Female and ethnic minorities were underrepresented in faculty ranks compared with the general U.S. population. Aside from total graduate program enrollment, the relative importance of various evaluation metrics for programs was highly variable among institutions. Data discussed herein should be useful to universities with horticulture graduate programs for peer institution comparisons during program assessments, accreditation reviews, or for strategic planning purposes.
A survey, targeting adults working with youth in garden situations, was designed for delivery on the KinderGARDEN World Wide Web site. The goal of this survey was to investigate adults who are actively involved in gardening with children in school, community or home gardens on their perceptions of the benefits of children participating in gardening. Three hundred-twenty completed surveys were returned via e-mail during a period of 9 months. Fourteen questions were included on the survey requesting information concerning what types of gardening situations in which children were participants and the demographics of the children involved in gardening. Results of the study cover 128,836 children (youth under 18 years old) involved in gardening, primarily with teachers in school gardens. The children involved were generally 12 years of age or under and were growing food crops. Adults gardening with children reported benefits to children's self-esteem and reduction in stress levels. Adults were also interested in learning more about the psychological, nutritional and physical benefits of gardening. Comparisons between those adults involved in gardening found that parents' and teachers' ideas differed concerning the most important aspects of the gardening experience. Parents viewed food production as most important while teachers thought socializing and learning about plants were most important.
Plant trialing and marketing assistance programs have become popular in recent years with several state and some regional programs emerging. Successful implementation requires considerable labor, facilities, and monetary resources for evaluation of large numbers of taxa over several years to ensure that plants are well adapted to the region of interest. Research and development funds, dedicated facilities, and cooperator commitment to trialing programs can be limiting during the early years of the programs. Involvement in plant trialing programs allows students to be exposed to plot layout planning, statistical design, plant maintenance, data collection and analysis, and professional communication of trial results. Construction of facilities for conducting plant trials, growing plants for use in trials, trial installation, and maintenance of plants all provide practical hands-on horticultural training. Replicated plant trials provide the latest information on regionally adapted taxa for inclusion in classroom instruction and publications. Plant trialing programs benefit from labor assistance, development of dedicated facilities, and the opportunity to share equipment and supplies among teaching, trialing, and student research projects.
An aging American population may be less willing than a younger population to install and remove a live, fresh-cut evergreen tree in their home for Christmas celebrations. An alternative to using traditional, large, fresh-cut or potted Christmas trees could be forcing these evergreen species in a small (≈1-L) container that could be displayed on a tabletop. We initiated this study to determine consumer preferences and marketability for six evergreen tree species produced for tabletop display and used three decoration themes and three price points. We constructed a web-based survey in which 331 participants were compensated with a $5 e-coupon for viewing 27 photographs of tabletop trees and providing preference and use information. The conjoint model accounted for 91.2% of the variance and showed that consumers valued tree species as the most important attribute (61% of the tree value), with decoration color/theme the second most important feature (27%) and, last, price (12%). Black Hills spruce (Picea glauca var. densata (Moench) Voss) was the most preferred species overall, and red was the most preferred decoration theme. Logically, the lowest price point was the most preferred. However, price was the most important attribute for participants younger than 25 years. The importance of price decreased as participant age increased until age 60, when price became a more important component. With a cost of production of $5.45 and decoration and shipping estimated at an additional $4.00, the product could be a profit generator priced at any of the tested price points ($14.95 and above).