Service learning is a technique in which instructors integrate community service into their semester curriculum to enhance the learning experience. Service-learning teaching strategies naturally fit into horticulture and landscape design curricula, since hands-on laboratories are often incorporated into lesson plans. The purpose of this study was to integrate service-learning techniques into a university-level horticulture course and measure the impact of the course on students’ perceptions of community involvement, perceptions of social impact, and perception of how well the students felt they learned the course material. Students in an undergraduate landscape design class were taught the process of landscape design using service-learning activities within the city and campus communities. Projects included developing designs for campus gardens, the city post office, neighborhood parks, the campus childcare center, city road median areas and the city women's shelter, and other projects. A survey tool was developed from other existing surveys to measure how students felt about service learning as a means to learn skills in class and to measure their perceptions of community involvement and social impact. Currently enrolled students were surveyed and alumni from five classes taught in a similar manner in previous years were surveyed. Results from the study showed major differences in that students felt more positive about community involvement after the course compared with before the course. Students rated their feelings of social impact and learning course material above the neutral levels in both categories. No differences were found in gender and grade point average (GPA) comparisons in any of the categories, with the exception of the social impact statements with males and students with higher GPAs rating their feelings more positively within that category. Additionally, differences were found in comparisons of alumni vs. current students, with alumni feeling more positive about how well they learned course material compared to current students.
T.M. Waliczek and J.M. Zajicek
T.M. Waliczek and P.D. O'Rourke
Horticulture crops are a multi-million dollar industry in Illinois, providing employment opportunities as well as strengthening many local economies. To help establish a “green-goods” industry basis for Illinois, ≈300 surveys were mailed to members of the Illinois Nurserymen's Association, including owners and operation managers of retail and wholesale nurseries, greenhouses and garden centers. The focus of the questionnaire was on the horticultural products and services provided and the value of these sales and services to residents of Illinois. Questions were included regarding the pool of available labor, the total number of industry employees, including full and part-time employees, and the starting and average salaries for employees. A 25% response rate was achieved with 76 surveys returned and analyzed. Results examined fundamental predictors in gaining industry employment such as education and experience, employee demographics and average compensation for those employed at various levels. Provided that survey responses were indicative of the overall Illinois horticulture industry, responses provided evidence that the horticulture industry contributes approximately $67 million in salary and wages to the Illinois economy. While universities are reporting an increase in the number of female horticulture graduates, respondents indicated that 74.8% of their employees were male. Businesses reported an average of 28 employees including sales and office staff. However, very few businesses had hired people with disabilities or were aware of the services the state can provide to businesses hiring people with disabilities. Businesses employed an average of 2.5 managers with an approximate annual salary of $48,000, and an average of 15 laborers with an approximate annual salary of $21,000. Correlations provided insight into which areas of the industry hired persons with horticulture degrees and the types of experience most valued by the industry.
O.M. Aguilar, T.M. Waliczek and J.M. Zajicek
The objectives of this study were to examine an interdisciplinary and experiential approach to environmental education by use of a youth gardening program for third through fifth grade students. In addition, this study evaluated the gardening program's effectiveness on promoting positive environmental attitudes and a high environmental locus of control with children. A questionnaire was developed from three existing instruments and was used to collect information concerning environmental attitudes, locus of control as it related to environmental actions, and demographic information of respondents. No statistically significant differences were found on either variable in comparisons of experimental and control group responses. However, students from both groups exhibited positive environmental attitudes. Demographic comparisons indicated that children with previous gardening experience scored significantly higher on the environmental attitude and environmental locus of control statements when compared with children without gardening experience. Girls scored significantly higher than boys on environmental attitude and environmental locus of control scores. Caucasians scored significantly higher when compared with African-Americans and Hispanics on environmental attitude scores, and Caucasians scored significantly higher when compared with African-Americans on environmental locus of control scores.
T.M. Waliczek, P. Logan and J.M. Zajicek
The main objective of this study was to investigate the impact of an outdoor environmental program, Math and Science in the Outdoor Classroom, on elementary grade students' creative and critical thinking, and attitudes toward math and science. Math and Science in the Outdoor Classroom is an on-campus nature program in Santa Fe, N.M. Students participated in half-day programs focusing on topics such as water, insects, soil, and weather. Twenty-one teachers from five schools volunteered 175 second through sixth graders to participate in the program and research study. Surveys were administered to students, teachers, and volunteers after completion of the program. Interview data was analyzed using QSR NUD*IST (Nonnumerical Unstructured Data Indexing Searching and Theory-building) computer-assisted qualitative data analysis system to examine respondents' perceptions of the program using Bloom's taxonomy as a theoretical framework. Results indicated that students not only learned math and science at the lower levels of Bloom's taxonomy, but were also thinking at the higher levels of synthesis and evaluation within the framework.
S. Koch, T.M. Waliczek and J.M. Zajicek
Fifty-six children were included in a study that evaluated the effectiveness of a garden program designed to teach health and nutrition to second through fifth grade-level children. The specific objectives of the research project were to evaluate the effect of the program on nutritional knowledge of the benefits of eating fruit and vegetables, nutritional attitudes toward fruit and vegetables, and eating behaviors of children, specifically consumption of fruit and vegetables. Children's nutritional knowledge was measured with an 11-question multiple-choice exam based on the educational activities performed. Children's nutritional attitudes regarding fruit and vegetables were measured with a fruit and vegetable preference questionnaire, and children's eating behaviors were evaluated with an interview question asking them what they ate for a snack that day. After participating in the nutritional program, children's knowledge about the benefits of eating fruit and vegetables significantly improved, but there were no significant differences found in participants' attitude scores toward fruit and vegetables. However, the participants did report eating healthier snacks after participation in the nutritional program.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.