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School grounds as a resource of green space to increase child-plant contact

Summary


School grounds have potential for, but are currently underutilized as, resources for child-plant interaction

A questionnaire administered to students and teachers of secondary schools in Greece focused on the idea that school grounds could play a pivotal role in providing opportunities for child-plant contact. The study was designed to address the decreasing availability of green open spaces in urban communities and limited school ground planting in many schools.

The questionnaire was completed by 120 students (age 12-17) and 66 teachers from five different secondary schools. While the format of the questionnaire was the same for students and teachers, the content differed. Data from the student questionnaire included (1) the student’s profile (age, gender, level/year of education, and number of siblings), (2) assessment of the school grounds, (3) use of plants in school lessons or activities, (4) activities on the school grounds, and (5) ideas for school ground planting. Data from the teacher survey included (1) the teacher’s profile (age, gender, degrees held, years teaching, and subject taught), (2) training in environmental issues, and (3) perceptions of school ground planting.

Results showed that students and teachers had very little knowledge of plants on the school grounds and that plant materials were rarely used in school lessons and activities. Both teachers and students indicated that they would like to include plant materials in school lessons and activities. Students’ primary preferences for plants for use on school grounds were based on functional characteristics, such as the provision of shade. The most preferred plant part cited by students were flowers; and for plant types, they preferred trees and other woody plants.

The authors note how the results of this study suggest the need to rethink school ground planting. The results also call attention to the need for teacher training related to the use of plant materials in their lessons. Not only would this increase students’ knowledge about plants and the environment in general, it would also create opportunities for educational outdoor activities supporting the school curriculum.

Citation

Akoumianaki-Ioannidou, A., Paraskevopoulou, A.T., Tachou, V., (2016). School grounds as a resource of green space to increase child-plant contact. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 20(1), 375-386.

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