1. Dilafruz Williams
  2. https://www.pdx.edu/profile/meet-professor-dilafruz-williams
  3. Principal Investigator/Director/Professor
  4. Science in the Learning Gardens: Factors that Support Ethnic and Racial Minority Students in Low-Income Middle Schools
  5. https://sites.google.com/a/pdx.edu/science-in-the-learning-gardens-scilg/
  6. Portland State University
  1. Heather Brule
  2. Adjunct Research Assistant
  3. Science in the Learning Gardens: Factors that Support Ethnic and Racial Minority Students in Low-Income Middle Schools
  4. https://sites.google.com/a/pdx.edu/science-in-the-learning-gardens-scilg/
  5. Portland State University
  1. Sybil Kelley
  2. Asst. Professor of Science Education & Sustainable Systems
  3. Science in the Learning Gardens: Factors that Support Ethnic and Racial Minority Students in Low-Income Middle Schools
  4. https://sites.google.com/a/pdx.edu/science-in-the-learning-gardens-scilg/
  5. Portland State University
  1. Ellen Skinner
  2. https://www.pdx.edu/psy/ellen-skinner-phd-professor-of-human-development-psychology-chair-department-of-psychology
  3. Professor & Chair
  4. Science in the Learning Gardens: Factors that Support Ethnic and Racial Minority Students in Low-Income Middle Schools
  5. https://sites.google.com/a/pdx.edu/science-in-the-learning-gardens-scilg/
  6. Portland State University
  1. Cary Sneider
  2. Associate Research Professor
  3. Science in the Learning Gardens: Factors that Support Ethnic and Racial Minority Students in Low-Income Middle Schools
  4. https://sites.google.com/a/pdx.edu/science-in-the-learning-gardens-scilg/
  5. Portland State University
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Dilafruz Williams

    Dilafruz Williams

    Presenter
    May 15, 2017 | 01:25 a.m.

    Thanks a lot for stopping by to watch our video! 

    If you have any questions/thoughts about the Science in the Learning Gardens (SciLG) we would love to hear from you. We are in the third year of our project, which has had three components:

    (1) Curriculum Design: Create, implement, and assess garden-based curriculum integrated with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), for grades 6-8, in order to promote Science equity;

    (2) Instruction: Use school gardens as milieu for teaching and learning; and

    (3) Research: Investigate the extent to which SciLG project activities predict improvements in student motivation, learning, identity, and grades in science.  The video presents results of the first phase of the longitudinal research. 

    We invite you to please join us in a conversation: Do you have similar experiences with research that shows motivation for middle school students engaged with hands-on relevant learning? Have you integrated gardens or outdoor learning with NGSS standards? What have you discovered? Once you watch the video, do you have feedback for us about experiences that we can incorporate for future research? For curriculum design? In the near future, we plan to post the curriculum and research papers at learning-gardens.org! My co-presenters and I would love to hear your thoughts.

     
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    Heidi Larson
  • Icon for: Jennifer Yurof

    Jennifer Yurof

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2017 | 01:27 p.m.

    Hi Dilafruz - this is fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing your important research and the significance of Science in the Learning Gardens on student learning.

    Do you have plans to involve other grades in this project? What factored into your decision to focus on grade 6-8?

    I would also be interested in hearing about other outdoor learning experiences that have been incorporated into teaching. Hands-on learning can truly impact student learning and motivation and although there are often barriers to implement hands-on learning in the classroom, it is extremely beneficial for students to do so. Thanks so much for sharing your work!

     
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    Dilafruz Williams
  • Icon for: Cary Sneider

    Cary Sneider

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2017 | 03:22 p.m.

    Hi! Thanks so much for your question and comment.  Dilafruz is currently returning from a conference in Austria where she delivered a keynote address, so she will have to provide a fuller response when she returns.  I'm a co-investigator, and my rationale for focusing on 8-8 is that many of the performance expectations from the NGSS at the middle school level can be taught very well through gardening activities.  For example, the information on a seed packet reflects the inherited traits of the plant, while what happens in the garden is due to both genetics and environment; so the gardening helps students see how these two influences play out in the life of an organism. As far as I know there is no current plan for working with elementary students.  The immediate plan is to share the curriculum and research results more widely. Many of the hands-on activities are typical gardening activities, such as composting and designing cold frames; but with clear rationale and related science concepts.  -- Cary Sneider

     
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  • Icon for: Ellen Skinner

    Ellen Skinner

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2017 | 07:34 p.m.

    Hi-- Ellen here, one of the motivational researchers. We also selected middle school because that is a developmental period during which engagement normatively starts dropping. So we were hopeful that garden-based educational activities, if they were well-integrated with the NGSS, could support both motivation and learning. Perhaps surprisingly, there are many more garden-based curricula for grades K-5th. So this work was designed to help fill in that gap.

     
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    Candyce Reynolds

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 15, 2017 | 01:28 p.m.

    I appreciate you reporting your results of the the project on this video.  I'm impressed with the impact of the project on student outcomes in such a short time.

     
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  • Icon for: Cary Sneider

    Cary Sneider

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2017 | 03:24 p.m.

    We are very pleased that you are interested in the research results.  My work has been on the science curriculum side, our researchers can provide a further response on the research side of the effort. -- Cary Sneider

     
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  • Icon for: Ellen Skinner

    Ellen Skinner

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2017 | 07:39 p.m.

    Thanks for your interest! Yes, we are excited about the research results as well, but I should point out that these findings just show that engagement in the garden-based learning activities is linked to current and future science outcomes. These findings are consistent with a causal interpretation, of course, but are suggestive rather than definitive.

     
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    Heidi Larson
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    Candyce Reynolds

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 15, 2017 | 07:41 p.m.

    I get that. But it is nice to see that there is this relationship and that is seems to have an impact.

     
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  • Icon for: Dilafruz Williams

    Dilafruz Williams

    Presenter
    May 16, 2017 | 12:41 a.m.

    Hello Jennifer,

    Thank you for your encouraging words.  We focused on middle grades (6-8) because that is when there tends to be a drop in engagement unless school provides active, hands-on learning opportunities to students directly linked with curriculum. When we proposed Science in the Learning Gardens to NSF, Oregon was one of 26 states that had adopted and was actively involved in the development and implementation of NGSS. Plus, since the 1990s, there has been a surge of interest in garden-based education with a proliferation of school gardens across the states, in school districts large and small.  However, while many garden-based curricula linked with standards were already available at K-5, there was not much to draw upon at the middle level. So, for us, the timing was right: we wanted to address the needs of middle schoolers and leverage the convergence of professional interest in NGSS and garden-based education. Our team has had expertise in what we call “Learning Gardens” and it has been an opportune time to develop curriculum that is linked with NGSS and that uses gardens as milieu for instruction. Self-Determination Theory is used as the framework for our longitudinal research as we are following a cohort of students from 6th to 7th to 8th grades. As a team, Cary Snyder, Ellen Skinner, Sybil Kelley, and I , are able to address the three components of the project that started in 2014: (a) Curriculum design; (b) Instruction that uses gardens; and (c) Research on motivational engagement.

    Your point about other outdoor learning experiences: Sometimes schools arrange field trips (perhaps once a year) for deep experiences outdoors. There is a green schoolyards movement that encourages educators to support children’s play and learning outdoors. Our project specifically focuses on school gardens as a means for educators to use the garden for instruction with direct curricular links that make learning relevant, interesting, and meaningful. We appreciate your interest and questions, Jennifer. Let us know if we can provide further information.  

     
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    Patricia Ruiz
    Steven Rogg, Ph.D.
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  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    Researcher
    May 16, 2017 | 10:07 a.m.

    Very cool -- I love the learning gardens movement.  As an ecologist (and a gardener), I of course think first of the life science that is a natural for such things (as well as the invaluable engagement with dirt, plants, bugs...)-- but I am curious if you have a physical science or math component to some of the lessons — middle school invites thematic integration, so the garden can be the meeting place for all the sciences (as well as the arts and...)

     

     
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  • Icon for: Cary Sneider

    Cary Sneider

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2017 | 11:45 a.m.

    Hi, Brian,

    Hi, Brian, I quite agree that gardening is an integrative subject. Although focus is clearly on life sciences, students study the physical characteristics of their compost bins, measuring the changing temperature, and inferring chemical processes that must be taking place as a result of decomposition within the compost. Other lessons include the water cycle—a concept that spans the physical sciences and Earth and space sciences—and engineering as students design, build, and reengineer a cold frame. The unit also has a very strong social studies component concerning food traditions in different cultures, including the cultural traditions that the students share with their classmates. I believe that the integrative nature of the activities contribute to the students' growing sense of self-efficacy and motivation for learning science that we see in the research results.

     
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    Heidi Larson
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    Walter II

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 17, 2017 | 12:13 a.m.

    A hopeful and exciting project. My one worry about the video is that you need to translate the statistics related to the four science outcomes in ways more understandable to the layman. I am sure education majors with stats get the picture immediately, but we all need to engage with our neighbors more effectively in our communication. It is exciting to see science leave its male bastion and become a truly intercultural and coeducational endeavor.

     
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  • Icon for: Sybil Kelley

    Sybil Kelley

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2017 | 12:17 p.m.

    Thank you, Walter!

    You have made such an important point! Closing the research to practice loop is so important, but a step that often gets lost. We're working closely with our school partners to help mitigate that common problem, but your post is a good reminder to  convey our findings in the most accessible ways.

    I will let Ellen Skinner and/or Heather Brule, our key researchers on the project, respond in more depth, but in our SciLG project, the key research findings indicate that all four science outcomes (science grades, science learning, science classroom engagement, and science identity) appear to be positively impacted by engagement in the learning gardens! (All outcomes were statistically significant.) Also, by following a cohort of students for three years of middle school, we're also seeing that engagement in the gardens seems to have a mitigating effect on typical motivational  declines that take place over the summer months (and in adolescence more generally).

    We are excited to continue analyzing the third year of data (collection underway right now) to see the longitudinal impacts of this type of learning experience. As the  curriculum & instruction and professional  development specialist on the project, I'm most excited by these findings in regards to school learning gardens more broadly. For a variety of reasons (beyond the scope of this posting :-) outdoor learning experiences and field trips are harder to implement. School gardens are literally just outside the doors, making authentic, experiential science/STEM learning accessible to all!

    Thanks again for your comments! I jumped from the findings to the implications, but that's what makes me so excited by this work!  :-)

    Warm regards,

    Sybil

     
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  • Icon for: Ellen Skinner

    Ellen Skinner

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2017 | 01:20 p.m.

    Thanks for your question, Walter. In our experience talking to teachers, parents, and students about this study, the place that we spend the most time (perhaps surprisingly) is not the statistics. Most people easily understand the idea of a correlation ("students who are more engaged in the garden are also say that they learn more about science"). We spend our time explaining and listening to discussion about the predictors themselves-- what it means to feel related or competent or autonomous while learning, and the kinds of garden experiences that could be supporting that. (Now, as soon as we get to more complex statistics, then you are right, most people are swimming, and we have worked hard to create data visualizations that provide accurate and understandable representations of findings-- with the idea that a picture is worth a thousand statistics.) Any ideas you have about how to make progress on that front would be appreciated!

     
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  • Icon for: Heidi Larson

    Heidi Larson

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2017 | 10:00 p.m.

    Thanks, I love garden-based curricula. It gets kids outside, learning about and appreciating nutritional foods and where they come from. Could you tell us what measurements you used to measure the student motivation, learning, and identity? 

     
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  • Icon for: Ellen Skinner

    Ellen Skinner

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2017 | 10:43 p.m.

    Hi, Heidi. Happy to fill you in. We used a suite of measures that we developed about 5 years ago based on Self-Determination Theory. It was surprising to us that there are not more quantitative measures of garden-based engagement and motivation, but these have been working pretty well so far. I am passing on the reference for the paper that describes some of the assessments, and a link to the measures (and the paper is there, too).

    Skinner, E. A., Chi, U., & the Learning-Gardens Educational Assessment Group (2012). Intrinsic motivation and engagement as “active ingredients” in garden-based education: Examining models and measures derived from self-determination theory. Journal of Environmental Education, 43(1),16-36.

    https://www.pdx.edu/psy/ellen-skinner-1

     
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    Heidi Larson
  • Icon for: Heidi Larson

    Heidi Larson

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2017 | 11:04 p.m.

    Thanks! I'll take a look. 

     
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  • Icon for: Steven Rogg

    Steven Rogg

    Facilitator
    May 18, 2017 | 05:58 a.m.

     The video indicates how the work is grounded (to your credit!) in Self-Determination Theory. Can you say more about the choice of this referent? Your comment that, "It was surprising to us that there are not more quantitative measures of garden-based engagement and motivation", reminded me of the NatGeo Growlab and derivatives around the country still today. How far are we in understanding the potential of garden-based, especially as a contribution to the NGSS vision for STEM education?

     
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  • Icon for: Ellen Skinner

    Ellen Skinner

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2017 | 01:25 p.m.

    Thanks for the question, Steven. We really liked the underlying assumptions of SDT-- how it is based on the assumption that all students have deep reserves of intrinsic motivation, and the job of educators to create learning activities that ignite and channel that motivation toward deep learning. Too often students from ethnic minority and low income backgrounds are labeled as "unmotivated," which presents us from thinking carefully about the nature of the academic work that we ask students to undertake. We found SDT very compatible with notions of culturally responsive pedagogy, which can provide guidance about creating learning environments (like SciLG) that promote intrinsic motivation for all students.

     
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  • Icon for: Dilafruz Williams

    Dilafruz Williams

    Presenter
    May 21, 2017 | 01:09 a.m.

    Hello Steven, I am thrilled with your question about "how far are we in understanding the potential of garden-based learning especially as a contribution to the NGSS vision for STEM education?"

    Let me first respond to the first part of your question related to the potential of garden-based learning. In a synthesis of research from 1990 to 2010 that addressed academic outcomes of garden-based learning, my co-author Scott Dixon and I found that Science as a subject tended to have the most positive outcome followed by Language Arts and Mathematics for the 48 studies that qualified for the synthesis. The synthesis entitled: "Impact of Garden-Based Learning on Academic Outcomes in Schools: Synthesis of Research Between 1990 and 2010," is published in the Review of Educational Research. The online version is available here: http://rer.sagepub.com/content/83/2/211. We also discovered that generally speaking the quality of research needed attention. Furthermore, most of the studies clustered around grades 3-5. So our NSF-funded SciLG project serves a real need to examine the impact of school gardens at the middle level when Science curriculum is designed using NGSS and gardens serve as the milieu for learning.

    With the proliferation of school gardens in the United States across school districts -- urban and rural, large and small -- and also across continents, there is a need expressed by teachers and administrators for curriculum integration and for research. The second part of your question, thus, is critical for researchers to address. We believe that we must study the academic linkages of school gardens. In many districts, teachers and university faculty are collaborating to design NGSS-integrated curriculum that uses the garden on school grounds for relevant science instruction. As more resources become available, research needs to be a critical part of the enterprise in order to legitimize this work. This is what motivates our SciLG team.

    Thank you for your interest in our project. Please let us  know if you have further thoughts on this.

     
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    Steven Rogg, Ph.D.
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    Rick Reynolds

    May 18, 2017 | 12:16 p.m.

    Congrats, all! Thanks for your wonderful work and I was happy to vote for you! :)

    Rick Reynolds

    Engaging Every Student / ShareOregon

    Environmental Education Assoc. of Oregon Board

     
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  • Icon for: Ellen Skinner

    Ellen Skinner

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2017 | 03:23 p.m.

    Thank you, Rick. We appreciate your support for the project!

     
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  • Icon for: Sybil Kelley

    Sybil Kelley

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2017 | 05:25 p.m.

    Thanks Rick!

    Please share with the broader EEAO community too. Lots of synergy and interconnections!

     

     
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  • Icon for: Jodye Selco

    Jodye Selco

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 19, 2017 | 12:42 p.m.

    I love this project and the conversation that it has spawned! Although gardens were not part of our original plan, we too wound up with both groves and gardens being installed at the elementary, middle, and high school sites. We managed this by involving the head of maintenance and grounds in our project when asking about changing grass out for plants that used less water (during the height of the drought in California). Although the initial response was no, minds changed - and so is the school landscape.  At the beginning of student work outside getting ready for the gardens, we found that some of the students had never "played in the dirt" (as evidenced by comments like "no wonder my Mom never lets me play in the dirt - you get dirty").  Did you have any students that were reluctant to get dirty? Did you change any minds? Your video shows a much lusher landscape than we have here in arid Southern California. Are any of the students you work with from areas that are not covered by vegetation? I'm interested in the differences between "local landscapes" and how that might affect students' mindsets about gardens.

     
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  • Icon for: Ellen Skinner

    Ellen Skinner

    Co-Presenter
    May 19, 2017 | 03:31 p.m.

    So very interesting, Jodye. I love hearing these origin stories. Our gardens started when Dilafruz and her then colleague Pramod Parajuli took a look at the underutilized Parks and Recreation site across from one of our schools. I will let my colleagues fill you in on the details, but the short answer is "yes-- middle school students definitely worry about getting dirty and (based on our Portland weather) wet in the gardens. We realized that for many of our students, who are low income, they worked hard to get their specific shoes and things, and so did not want to get them dirty or wet. There have also been critiques of garden programs from the perspective of Latino parents, who sometimes see education as pathways OUT of farm labor, but as far as I know, we have not had pushback from parents. In fact, for years we have had family and community gardens on the site, so that in general the more parents know about gardening, the more support they provide for SciLG.

     
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  • Icon for: Dilafruz Williams

    Dilafruz Williams

    Presenter
    May 21, 2017 | 02:05 a.m.

    Hello Jodye,

    Thank you for sharing your observations. I was touched by your example of personal involvement in creating gardens at your the school in California. Your story reminds me of what David Orr states eloquently: Landscapes shape Mindscapes. For those of us who are gardeners it is clear that the experience of exposure mostly to asphalt indeed differs drastically from the experience of interaction with life in the gardens. In my co-authored book, "Learning Gardens and Sustainability Education: Bringing Life to Schools and Schools to Life" living soil is used as a metaphor for the kind of education we need to promote especially when children's senses are being numbed due to disconnectedness from real life. 

    You also asked about how kids view getting "dirty." I wish I could share with you a series of photographs. I have been visiting school gardens across the country (and abroad) as part of my new book project on Case Studies of School Gardens. A class of kindergartners in one school in the mid-west seemed excited as they were coming out of the school building to the gardens. When their garden teacher asked them to go and check if the compost was ready for them to bring to the garden beds for planting, three boys took some trowels and ran to the compost pile. Next, they jumped into it. While trying to pick some compost out, they paused and sat down in the compost pile (it was actually rich soil and ready) and started to explore the critters they found. They did not care one bit about whether their shoes or their hair or their clothes were messed up. In fact, they were so totally absorbed...curious, excited, wondering...the teacher had to remind them to please bring the soil to the raised beds. Squealing with delight, they ran back and forth, compost feeding the garden bed in anticipation of seeds those tiny hands would next plant!

    Three years ago, my colleague and I conducted focus groups/interviews of sixth graders in the garden program in Portland. We explored many questions with them along with what they liked and/or disliked about garden learning. They talked about a lot of things that they liked; however, the only thing they mentioned (if at all) about what they disliked, was that sometimes when it rained and it was cold they preferred not to be out in the garden. Those of us who live in Portland Oregon, have given up trying to polish our shoes or even keep them dry ... it rains a lot here. We do provide boots and rain gear in the gardens for those who want to wear them. We appreciate you noticing that our gardens are lush. Yes, we do take the greenery for granted here in Portland. 

    We would love to hear more about your experiences later, as this showcase ends on Monday. Email: williamsdi@pdx.edu

    Again, we thank you for sharing your passion and interests.

     
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  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.