1. Dilafruz Williams
  2. https://www.pdx.edu/profile/meet-professor-dilafruz-williams
  3. Principal Investigator/Director/Professor
  5. Portland State University
  1. Heather Brule
  2. Adjunct Research Assistant
  4. Portland State University
  1. Sybil Kelley
  2. Asst. Professor of Science Education & Sustainable Systems
  4. 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
  5. Portland State University
  1. Cary Sneider
  2. Associate Research Professor
  4. Portland State University

Science in the Learning Gardens: Factors that Support Ethnic and Racial Minor...

NSF Awards: 1418270

2017 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 6-8

This study reports the initial results of an on-going 3-year longitudinal project, Science in the Learning Gardens (SciLG), designed to examine school gardens as a milieu for science learning in diverse middle school students. Funded by NSF, SciLG is a partnership between Portland Public Schools and Portland State University (Portland OR), and addresses two inter-related educational needs: underrepresentation of racial and ethnic minority (henceforth, minority) students in science; and inadequacies of curriculum and pedagogy to address the cultural and motivational needs of minority students. By integrating Next Generation Science Standards for 6th through 8th graders with principles of garden-based education and Self-Determination Theory, SciLG studies the pedagogical and motivational processes that support the success of minority middle school students. Longitudinal data were collected from 113 students and their 3 science teachers in 6th and 7th grade. An aggregate measure of students’ experiences in SciLG (self-reports of belongingness, competence, autonomy, and engagement; and teacher-reports of re-engagement) in spring of 6th grade predicted four science outcomes: engagement, learning, and grades in science class, and academic identity in science—both concurrently and in the following fall. This suggests that garden-based activities show promise in fostering not only students’ engagement in science class, but also their actual science grades and interest in pursuing science long-term. This study highlights the role of students’ motivation in the garden, as well as their engagement and re-engagement in the classroom, as potential pathways by which gardening activities in SciLG shape motivation, learning, and academic identity in science.

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