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- Author or Editor: Tina Marie Waliczek x
The main objective of this research was to investigate the impact of plants within a university classroom setting on course performance and on student perceptions of the course and instructor. The study was designed to include a minimum of two classes of the same coursework taught by the same professor in the same room during one semester. Three sets of two classes each and 385 students were included within the study. Throughout the semester, the experimental class of students was treated by including an assortment of tropical plants within the classroom. Plants were not present in the control classroom of the study. The official university course and instructor evaluation survey was administered at the end of the semester. Additionally, each student provided demographic data, including class rank, gender, and ethnicity. To measure course performance, the professor for each course reported each student's grade for the course. No statistically significant differences were found in comparisons of grades/student course performance (P = 0.192). However, statistically significant differences were found in comparisons of overall course and instructor evaluation scores of treatment and control groups (P = 0.065). Statistically significant differences were found in comparisons of the individual courses/classrooms between control and treatment groups on statements in subsections of the course and instructor evaluation survey, including the areas of “learning,” “enthusiasm (of instructor),” and “organization (of instructor).” In these comparisons of the treatment and control groups, the differences that were most apparent were in students who had class in the classroom that was windowless and stark. The plants appeared to have the greatest impact on students in the room that was void of other natural elements.
At Texas State University, a cafeteria-composting pilot program was established in which students source-separated their organic waste at one of the food courts while the program educated students on the value of organic waste and compost. Waste sorting bins were set up in a dining hall to direct students to sort trash into recyclables, compostables, and trash. Waste audit results demonstrated the value of the operation to the university in terms of savings in waste hauling expenditures, as well as showed the percent contamination, and percent waste diverted to the university's recycling and composting program. There was a significant difference between pre and post-test waste audits. The pilot site composting program resulted in a net loss of $3741.35 to the university during the first year, but was expected to produce a positive net return of $2585.11 in subsequent years. The pilot test showed the program was most successful when ongoing education at the dining hall occurred. Additionally, the student-run composting program resulted in hands-on training for students in producing a valuable horticultural commodity in an emerging waste management field. Results also indicated opportunities for further diversion such as the incorporation of compostable cups and utensils, as well as through expanding the operation to include more collection locations. With more collection sites and, therefore, more efficiency, the expanded composting program has the potential to become a self-supporting operation.
The number of asthma cases in children has increased significantly in the last couple of decades. Studies on links between outdoor air pollutants and asthma have had mixed results, suggesting the need for more focused studies. An increase in tree plantings for urban areas is now being called upon as a solution to the higher heat indexes and pollution rates for more densely populated areas. Green spaces and trees could further benefit some urban areas by providing an effective means to improve air conditions. The purpose of this study was to assess whether there is a relationship between levels of vegetation and reported rates of childhood asthma in Texas. Childhood asthma data were collected from the Center for Health Statistics and the Texas Department of State Health Services for the years 2005 and 2006. The asthma rates for each metropolitan statistical area (MSA) were mapped and inserted into a corresponding vegetation map using geographical mapping software. A comparison of vegetation rates and asthma rates in metropolitan areas was used to investigate whether vegetation and tree cover led to higher or lower incidences of childhood asthma rates. Asthma data, normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), and canopy cover data were analyzed using statistical software. Regression analysis and correlations were calculated to analyze the data for the tree coverage/vegetation rates and asthma rates variable. No statistically significant relationships between NDVI, canopy cover, and asthma were found in this study.
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.
Research reflective of the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities required to fulfill the job of a horticultural therapist is lacking. Past research indicated a majority of horticultural therapists agreed that a certification test is necessary for the advancement of horticultural therapy as a profession. The goals of this project are to identify the knowledge, skills, and abilities currently used and/or performed by horticultural therapists, as well as to use data to develop a generalized horticultural therapist job description based on current practice, to understand how the profession has changed since previous research was conducted, and to collect data to develop a certification exam. Job descriptions of horticulture-related occupations from the Department of Labor, therapeutic recreation job analysis components from the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC), previous horticultural therapy job analysis information, and a concept analysis of membership-solicited job descriptions were used to construct a knowledge, skills, and ability survey. The web-based survey was sent to 227 current professionally registered members of the American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA). The questionnaire consisted of 95 items. A Likert-scale rating system was used by respondents to rate the importance of each item in their current profession. Eighty-five responses were acquired for a response rate of 37%. Survey respondents rated all statements of job knowledge, skills, and abilities presented at least “moderately important” for professional practice. The job task analysis is foundational to the establishment of future training requirements and in the development of a certification exam for horticultural therapy.
The purpose of this study was to examine the ability of preschool gardening programs to help children develop their ability to delay gratification. Children today face many opportunities for instant gratification, although the ability to delay gratification in early childhood has been linked to numerous benefits later in life. Opportunities to train children in the ability to delay gratification present educational challenges, in that it competes with other academic training needs, and it can be difficult to find programs that are interesting to young children. The population for this study was preschool children ranging in age from 2 to 6 years, with treatment and control groups drawn from different schools. Participants were tested individually and timed to determine their ability to delay gratification, with promises of larger rewards if the child could wait for 15 minutes. The results of this study did not identify a significant change in all children’s ability to delay gratification after a gardening program. However, analyses showed that females appear to have responded more positively to the gardening treatment in their ability to delay gratification, whereas males in the control group benefited more from traditional school lessons.
During the past few years, Americans have experienced a wide variety of stressors, including political tensions, racial/civil unrest, and the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. All of these have led to uncertainty within society. Chronic feelings of helplessness can lead to depression or feelings of hopelessness in those who perceive their situation as unchanging. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impacts of gardening and outdoor activities during the COVID-19 pandemic on perceptions of hope, hopelessness, and levels of depression, stress, and anxiety. Participants of this study were recruited through online social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram; 458 participants completed the 21-item Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale inventory as well as the Hope Scale. Our data indicated that individuals who self-reported themselves as gardeners had significantly more positive scores related to levels of stress, anxiety, and depression and a sense of hope. Furthermore, gardeners had lower levels of self-reported depression, anxiety, and stress when compared with those who did not identify themselves as gardeners. The gardeners also had a more positive outlook regarding hope for the future. Additionally, a significant positive correlation was found between the number of hours spent participating in gardening and a sense of hope, and a negative correlation was found between the number of hours gardening and stress levels. Similarly, there was a significant negative correlation between the number of hours spent participating in any outdoor activity and self-reported levels of stress, anxiety, or depression; however, there was a positive correlation between the number of hours spent participating in any outdoor activity and a sense of hope. Our data suggested that more hours spent outside gardening or participating in recreational activities led to less perceived stress, anxiety, and depression and greater levels of hope for the future.