Date of Award

12-2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Agriculture and Extension Education

Major Professor

Carrie Ann Fritz

Committee Members

Random G. Waters, Dennis E. Deyton

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore people-plant interactions and discover the affects of using horticulture therapy techniques with four comprehensive development classroom (CDC) students in four high school horticulture classes. The central research question addressed during the study was, “How do horticulture therapy techniques affect cognitive abilities, emotional behaviors, and social behaviors of CDC students in high school horticulture classes?”

The researcher used a total of three different instruments in order to measure various capabilities of each child. These three quantitative instruments utilized during the study consisted of a General Horticulture Knowledge Test, an Emotions Face Test, and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. The General Horticulture Knowledge Test and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale were each administered to the four student participants a total of three times. The researcher administered these tests before beginning the initial study in February, again in March, and at the conclusion of the study in May. The Emotions Face test was administered before and after horticulture activities were completed. Each of the tests was read aloud by the researcher for better understanding by the participants. Observations also played a key role in this study. Interviews were conducted orally with the two CDC teachers and the four CDC students. The CDC teachers were interviewed twice, once before the study started and once at the conclusion of the study. The four students were interviewed only once, this being at the conclusion of the study. Six teacher aides, who work with the students throughout the day, were also involved in the study. They completed written questionnaires containing the same questions as the CDC teachers were asked in their interviews.

This study revealed that the participants had increased levels of self-esteem, positive changes in emotional behaviors, and gains in cognitive behaviors during the four month case study. The tests results combined with interviews and observations of the four student participants, two CDC teachers, and six teacher aides supported the idea that horticulture therapy techniques are beneficial to CDC students enrolled in high school horticulture classes.

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