Planting seeds and watch them grow: an empirical study about the effects of school gardening on first-graders' perception and appreciation of plant diversity
Dorothee Benkowitz (University of Education)
Paper short abstract:
In a comparative pretest-posttest study 136 first-graders were tested for the effects of school gardening on their perception and appreciation of plant diversity. Results showed a significant raise of taxonomic knowledge and hence a raise of perception and appreciation of species richness.
Paper long abstract:
More and more people choose to live in cities. Increasing urbanization destroys habitats and homogenizes biodiversity which is the vital basis for human life. In the Convention on Biological Diversity an improvement of education and public awareness about the value of biodiversity is demanded. By fostering biodiversity education society can be prepared for the challenges of sustainable development. The National Strategy for Germany points out the importance of promoting school gardens. In this authentic learning environment children are offered multifarious opportunities for primary hands on experience with plants. In a comparative pretest-posttest study first-graders were tested for the effects of school gardening on their perception and appreciation of plant diversity (n = 136). In one-to-one interviews they were asked to estimate the species richness in meadow-like arrays of different diversity, to sort flowers by resemblance or development stage and to answer questions about plants. Afterwards the test group worked in a school garden for one year, the control group was instructed in the classroom. Results of the post-test showed a slight positive influence of school gardening on the perception of plant diversity. All children preferred species-rich arrangements, but the test group possessed a significantly higher taxonomic knowledge. The knowledge of species correlated positively with the estimation of species richness: the more plants children knew the more precisely they estimated the number of species. School gardening improves the taxonomic knowledge significantly. Better taxonomic knowledge leads to a better perception of species, hence to an improved awareness of diversity.Download the full paper