Date of Award

5-2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Plant Sciences

Major Professor

Susan L. Hamilton, John M. Fly

Committee Members

Caula A. Beyl, Jennifer A. Morrow, Michael L. Bentley

Abstract

Environmental psychologists have found relationships between plants, nature and satisfaction. Student satisfaction is important across grade levels. Two studies were conducted to determine the effect of spending time with live plants on student satisfaction and academic performance. In the first study, a quasi-experimental nonequivalent control group design was used to determine how participation in garden labs would affect high school student satisfaction with school and academic performance. Ecology students in the variable group participated in ten gardening labs during the semester. During labs, students did hands-on gardening activities in the school greenhouse and garden. Students in the variable and control groups completed a questionnaire before and after the ten-week garden lab period. Interaction with plants during the labs and outside of school was somewhat related to student satisfaction and academic performance.

In the second study a survey instrument was developed to determine how frequently undergraduate students interact with live plants, gauge student satisfaction with school, and measure academic performance. Time spent interacting with live plants was broken into two groups. Active interaction involved activities where the individual had sought-out plant based activities (e.g. gardening). Passive interaction with plants included activities where the individual may not have desired a plant based activity even though it was in a “green” environment that has live plants (e.g. walking outside or reading outdoors). Both active and passive interaction with live plants was related to student satisfaction with school and academic performance. These findings support the proposition that plants do play a part in student satisfaction with school and academic performance. Schools should provide opportunities to experience plant life.

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