Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Educational Studies

First Advisor

Meir Muller

Abstract

The purpose of this narrative study was to investigate the lived experiences of early childhood teachers working in preschool settings who have implemented gardenbased learning for more than one year. The seven preschool teachers who agreed to participate in the study were asked to describe significant life experiences that influenced them to implement gardening into their curriculum. Additionally, the teachers were asked to describe the bridges and barriers to implementing garden-based learning and how school gardening has impacted their students’ learning and development. The data collection process included semi-structured interviews and teacher journal entries over a two-month period. The interviews were transcribed by the researcher and returned to the participants for their review. Initially, the interview transcriptions and journal entries were manually coded and analyzed by the researcher. Then, each transcription and journal entry was thematically coded using NVivo v12 software. Findings from the study showed: (a) Childhood gardening experiences and professional work experiences shaped the teacher’s decision to implement garden-based learning, (b) Support from family members enabled implementation, (c) Funding, time, space, and teacher knowledge impeded implementation, (d) Multiple student developmental domains are impacted by garden-based learning. In light of these findings, this study resulted in several implications for childcare administrators and teachers.

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