Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Renee Schwartz PhD

Second Advisor

Maggie Renken, Phd

Third Advisor

Natalie King, PhD

Fourth Advisor

Patrick Enderle, PhD

Fifth Advisor

Audrey Leroux, PhD


Since the turn of the century gardens have been spaces for learning to take place. Gardens allow for a variety of disciplines to be explored from horticulture to art. In the mid nineteen nineties a school garden movement began to grow, in the United States and by the early two thousands several states had implemented a school garden policy. The majority of school gardens focus on academic outcomes (e.g. science, math, or language arts) or health outcomes (e.g. nutrition, well-being, and self-esteem).

Currently, there is limited information about how school gardens can be places for scientific inquiry and practices to develop in students. Furthermore, more in-depth mixed-method research on school gardens and how school gardens can produce learning opportunities for scientific practices to develop need to be conducted. Future research should take a new direction. The scientific practices created by Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) (LeadStates, 2013) need to be explored further in relation to how exposure to a school garden can affect these practices and knowledge about inquiry learning (Callahan, 2012; Chi, Dorph & Reisman, 2016; Kisiel & Anderson, 2010).

Through this dissertation, school gardens can be viewed as an extension of the traditional classroom. School gardens have the potential to foster learners’ abilities to construct real-life associations with science content due to engagement, free exploration, and scientific investigation. This study found school gardens as an out of class room setting where students have the ability to learn and develop their understanding about scientific inquiry and scientific practices. This new avenue may help develop better scientific literacy universally across learners. This research work created curriculum and assessment tools to use in conjunction with an out of classroom setting such as a school garden.


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