Students learn environmental stewardship, improve science scores

Dec 11, 2009
Middle school students learn through hands-on horticulture lessons in Louisiana's Coastal Roots program. Credit: Photo courtesy of Kathryn Karsh

Keeping with the global "green" trend, educators worldwide are relying more on environmental education lessons to enhance students' science knowledge. Studies have revealed that bringing environmental education into the curriculum raises not just science scores—environmental-based lessons can also improve student test scores in other subject areas. Naturally, educators are interested in developing new ways to integrate these relevant lessons into the classroom in hopes of piquing student interest and comprehension in multiple subject areas.

To accompany an established program called "Coastal Roots", educators in Louisiana recently designed and tested eight hands-on horticulture lessons to teach middle students the basic needs, processes, and benefits of plants. Students who received the horticulture lessons were tested on science content and "environmental awareness". Significant increases in student post-test scores were found in both years of the study.

In 1999, The Louisiana Sea Grant College Program established ''Coastal Roots'' an innovative program designed to teach information on Louisiana's wetland loss and foster stewardship for the state's coastal resources in elementary through high school students. The program combines nursery management and coastal environmental awareness into a hands-on program in which students at participating schools grow coastal plants for use in local wetland restoration projects.

To compliment the nursery-based Coastal Roots program, the researchers designed eight hands-on lessons that take basic horticulture knowledge a step forward by introducing the importance of plants to Louisiana's wetlands. Kathryn Karsh, Edward Bush, Janice Hinson, and Pamela Blanchard from Louisiana State University published the study report in HortTechnology.

Four Louisiana schools participated in the LSU study. The schools were chosen from those participating in the Coastal Roots program, and included one private and three public schools in four southern central parishes (counties). Students were tested on science content in the lessons using a pre-test, eight multiple choice quizzes (each focusing on a particular lesson), and a post-test. An "attitudes toward the environment scale'' test was administered to evaluate students' environmental awareness changes in the treatment and control groups.

Students who received the horticulture lessons improved their post-test scores by 11.4 points in the first year and an impressive 25.07 points in the second year of the study. In the second year, students who received the lessons were more found to be significantly more "aware of their role in the environment" than those who did not receive the additional lessons.

Karsh, lead author of the study, noted that "the study proved that that the addition of the horticulture lessons statistically improved student post-horticulture scores and environmental stewardship as determined by the horticulture test and test scores."

More information: The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortTechnology electronic journal web site: horttech.ashspublications.org/… nt/abstract/19/4/813

Source: American Society for Horticultural Science

Explore further: Best of Last Week – New type of qubit created, Hubble sees a glowing galaxy and extreme agreeing may solve disagreements

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

It's not just dirt!

Nov 25, 2009

Soil is the linchpin of the environment, where atmosphere, biosphere, and hydrosphere meet. Despite that, many students see soil as "just dirt" - a place to grow plants, but nothing more. Soil science educators are challenged ...

Enhanced math instruction proposed

Oct 19, 2006

Researchers say U.S. high school pupils taking vocational classes with enhanced math instruction do better on standardized math tests than other students.

Survey finds horticulture grads prepared for green jobs

Nov 04, 2009

Professors Ann Marie VanDerZanden and Michael Reinert of Iowa State University (ISU) wanted to find out how their recent Department of Horticulture graduates were faring in the workplace. To learn more about ...

Recommended for you

How to win a Tour de France sprint

13 hours ago

The final dash to the line in a Tour de France sprint finish may appear to the bystander to be a mess of bodies trying to cram into the width of a road, but there is a high degree of strategy involved. It ...

Bible museum planned for US capital

Jul 18, 2014

The devout Christian family that upended a part of President Barack Obama's health care law aims to open a Bible museum in Washington in 2017, a spokesperson for the project said Friday.

The science behind Tour de France's hide-and-seek tactics

Jul 15, 2014

When the Tour de France comes to town, it's a chance to get your gladrags on. This year's Grand Depart in Yorkshire saw Leeds decked out with yellow flowers, bikes placed in coffee bar windows, statues wearing ...

User comments : 0