Title page for ETD etd-01262012-001013

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Legoria, Mary Flake
Author's Email Address mgutierrez@ebrschools.org
URN etd-01262012-001013
Title An Exploratory Study of Informal Science Learning by Children Ages 2-12 at Selected U.S. Children's Gardens
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Educational Theory, Policy, & Practice
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Wandersee, James Committee Chair
Blanchard, Pamela Committee Member
Cheek, Earl Committee Member
Machtmes, Krisanna Committee Member
Harms, Kyle Committee Member
  • informal science learning
  • children's gardens
Date of Defense 2011-11-09
Availability unrestricted

This exploratory study was conducted at four children’s gardens in major botanical gardens across the United States to determine if children became more aware and knowledgeable of plants while visiting these gardens. This was determined through the children’s garden stakeholders’ perspectives; the stakeholders of this study were the children and parents who visited the gardens. Their views were acquired through on-site observations and interviews. The purposive sample comprised 64 participants including 40 children (19 girls and 21 boys, ages 2- 12 years). There were 18 mothers, 3 fathers, 3 grandmothers, and 1 grandfather. The 40 children were observed and 30 children were interviewed. A total of 25 parents or guardians were interviewed. This study determined that the children’s learning was contextual; i.e., influenced by the garden and participatory garden features they visited. For example, the children who visited the facilitated (by a trained volunteer) features that taught plant concepts were able to repeat and explain the lesson. However, in gardens that provided opportunities for independent exploration with natural components such as water, children made some very advanced observations about plants. This study also found that children’s previous experiences with plants heightened their awareness of plants in the children’s garden. Especially on their walks through the regular botanical garden areas to the children’s garden, many children noticed and asked questions about plants.

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