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Open Access Peer-reviewed

Hands-on School-based Gardening: An Intervention for Teachers’ Well-being amidst Pandemic

Marites M. Gavia, Jolly P. Cabingas, Nympha P. Rodriguez, Jerry E. Pallo
Journal of Innovations in Teaching and Learning. 2021, 1(1), 41-46. DOI: 10.12691/jitl-1-1-8
Received February 14, 2021; Revised March 17, 2021; Accepted March 21, 2021

Abstract

In this pandemic where teachers are so worried about their health and some other factors that affect their well-being including mental health. This research have examined and explored the effectiveness of hands-on school-based gardening as intervention on the teachers’ well-being amidst pandemic. A mixed-method research design with cluster sampling technique – simple random sampling was utilized in the study with a 50% response rate. Results showed that teacher-participants strongly agree that everyone can benefit from gardening like social benefits, nutritional benefits, and physical activity improves one’s physical, social, and mental health. Teachers displayed very good disposition towards gardening. In the level of happiness, teachers have shown significant improvement after being exposed and engaged to hands-on school-based gardening and believed that gardening activities have positive influences on health and well-being of the person. Recurring themes among teacher-participants indicate importance to engage oneself in the gardening activities to increase social interaction, communication, motivation, task engagement, relieving stress, and improve people’s health and well-being. It is of interest to embrace gardening at home. Further studies may be conducted integrating gardening in the lessons among students to understand how effective gardening in their academic performance and point ways on facing life’s challenges.

1. Introduction

Teaching is an inspiring profession for it stretches one’s physical, mental, social and spiritual capacities. The working conditions could test teachers’ professional ability and often times, the strong points of their hearts and minds. In other words, teaching as a profession, requires much more than many other jobs in the world. Thus, a need to study the teachers’ well-being would help numerous entities as well as learning agencies to raise awareness on the real world of teaching profession. It doesn’t mean, addressing all the teachers’ pressing need, but focusing on their well-being would give teachers the strength and optimism to overcome challenges and change the way they work without burning out or giving up.

Numerous researches noted the vital importance of valuing well-being in the workplaces. Results of this study disclosed that a workplace that supports the holistic well-being of its employees has higher retention, increased loyalty, increased conscientiousness and less sickness 1. This implies further that schools must devise measure or programs that put strong emphasis of enhancing the well-being of its teachers and staff. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged teachers’ ability adapt technology, learn new pedagogy and other modalities of teaching. Likewise, the issue on internet connectivity, availability of learning resources, online safety, and mental health have affected teachers and other people in the school community 2. These challenges, did not wane teachers’ passion to be in the forefront to provide the educational need of the learners by reaching out the marginalized, disadvantaged and vulnerable learners in remote areas. However, human as they are, these challenges may sometimes droop their well-being that were manifested in their level of happiness and perceived stress. Since teachers are considered indispensable facet in the school, their well-being should not be understated.

COVID 19 pose more fears among teachers in Mambuaya National High School. Since majority of the teachers reside in the city proper, commuting is an option for them to work on site. This scenario has made them consider the days working on site as “hard, depressing and uninspiring” that were all manifested in their level of happiness and perceived stress. A hands-on school-based gardening was adopted in response to this challenge. As J.H. Patterson who established National Cash Register Garden in 1897 believed that garden is the place to foster person’s physical function, moral state and mental health 3. Gardening has been proven to give wondrous benefits. Growing scientific evidence highlights the critical importance of gardening to one’s physical, mental, and social wellbeing 4. The act of gardening helps the person to keep fit and connect with others, to enjoy and be part of nature. In contemplating with nature helps one to rest and recharge the brains. Aside from physical exercise that one does in the gardening routine, one can also grow organic food specially vegetables that were all loaded with health benefits 5.

A number of published researches put emphasis that in gardening, everyone can benefit from it. Such activity recognized regular contact with plants and in the natural environment that can improve one’s physical health and mental well-being. As a person cares and grows food, he is engaging himself with the natural world at a step that act as remedy to the stresses of the present life and experiences. Moreover, through gardening people get a way of life that can help them be better on their well-being in a longer term.

The DepEd Memorandum No. 09 series of 2018 also known as “Sustaining the implementation of the Gulayan sa Paaralan Program,” Mambuaya National High School offered Technical-Vocational and Livelihood courses. One of these is Agri-crop Production. Agri-crop Production focuses on planting and caring plants. In this pandemic where teachers are so worried about their health and some other factors that affect their well-being. To address the well-being of teachers in their workplace, the researchers devised a Hands-on School-based Gardening as an intervention, where teachers are the ones to do hands-on gardening and utilizing the vacant lots and creating a green space and food growing spaces in the school premises. The researchers believe that teachers are influencers to their students upon seeing them doing actual gardening. In gardening, it offers hands on and experiential learning opportunities. As Louv 6 stressed out that the young ones through a deep connection with nature, school gardening can inspire environmental stewardship and that students would value the importance of agriculture.

For a successful school gardening, DeMarco 7 proposed increasing teacher and environmental education and the interdisciplinary use of horticulture through school-based gardening. Gridley 8 summarized important points in school gardening that promotes participatory process and environmental stewardship. More so, Hazzard 9 established key factors for a successful school gardening program that include of having committed people, identifying a school garden coordinator, encouraging volunteerism, and using the garden academically and for the health. In addition, putting oneself engage to gardening which in turn would improve their chances at living a healthy life. School gardening has direct positive impact on a person’s health, mobility and future quality of life. Kumar, et. al 10 examined the health benefits of activity outdoors such as gardening and suggested links to positive impacts on health. Mitchell and Popham 11 added that the use of outdoor natural spaces is particularly important to person’s health and the exposure to it could play a vital role in reducing health inequalities specially at this time of worldwide crisis.

Adevi and Martensson 12 stressed out that garden is a place in the recovery from stress. Considering the gardening activities can lead to active engagement and attention where teachers themselves are doing the cleaning and planting of vegetables in the assigned area. Teachers can also learn gardening skills when they incorporate gardening into their daily activity routine. These skills can be transferred into their own homes and to other social networks. By this way, benefiting their own health as well as the health of their family members.

This study aims to determine the effect of school-based gardening on the well-being of teachers amidst pandemic. The following research questions would serve as guide in validating the effectiveness of the Hands-on School-based Gardening as an intervention on teachers’ well-being in this crisis.

1. What is the teachers’ attitude towards gardening?

2. How does hands-on school-based gardening enhance the well-being of teachers in terms of:

a. level of happiness; and

b. level of Perceived Stress?

3. How did hands-on school-based gardening affect teachers’ well-being?

2. Methodology

This research utilized a mixed-method research design 13. The quantitative portion utilized a pre-experimental one-shot case research design 14 while an interview was used for the qualitative portion. In the study, the qualitative part described the situation using the intervention factually and accurately without being influenced by the researchers. Likewise, data treated with descriptive statistics like frequency counting, percentage and the mean, to interpret variables of the study. Thus, these research designs would provide basic information about the study specifically the intervention used and its possible effect to teachers’ well-being.

In the study, the qualitative part described the situation using the intervention factually and accurately without being influenced by the researchers. Likewise, data treated with descriptive statistics like frequency counting, percentage and the mean, to interpret variables of the study. Thus, these research designs would provide basic information about the study specifically the intervention used and its possible effect to teachers’ well-being.

The participants of the study were 14 teachers or fifty percent of the teachers’ population of Mambuaya National High School. This would mean that researchers got fifty percent sample in every year level from grade 7 to grade 12. As to consideration of the School Head’s recommendation on places to use as school garden, each group (year level) was given an area to utilize in their gardening activities. With respect to participants’ area, draw lots was administered where representative in a group picked their natural places to work on. In the implementation period, all participants were oriented and informed about the study and their roles. Further, each group received seeds to plant and a time table as guide. All of the participants were given a consent letter of their participation, and a pre and post survey questionnaires.

This study used cluster sampling technique wherein teachers were grouped according to year level and from the clustered groupings, the researchers employed a simple random sampling technique to get the desired sample of the study. In gathering useful and relevant data - focus group discussions, informal interviews, adapted and modified questionnaires were used to answer the problems of the study. To determine the teacher’s attitude towards gardening, an adapted questionnaire was utilized 15. The Oxford Happiness 16 was utilized for the determination of teacher level of happiness while the questionnaire on Perceived Stress Scale was used to assess the teacher’s level of perceived stress 17. Questionnaires for problem number 1 and 2 were administered before and after the three-month intervention. Moreover, interview and focus group discussion was utilized to answer problem number 3.

3. Results and Discussions

3.1. Teacher’s Attitude towards Gardening

School gardening program are thought to contribute to a healthy lifestyle 18. It also supports therapeutic, re-educational and social integration activities 19. The teacher’s attitude towards gardening are summarized in Table 1. Participating teachers rated their selves as to the disposition in a state of preparation on the gardening activities. It was reflected in the table that statements 2, 3, 9, and 10 have high frequency and mean, it displays that teachers strongly agree that caring, weeding and watering of plants are relevant to keep the garden healthy. Meanwhile, teachers strongly disagree on statements 7 and 8 stating the unfavorable remark about gardening. The Royal Horticulture Society 20, Barnidge et al. 21, and Zick et al. 22 agreed that physical activities of growing food like weeding and digging could contribute comprehensive ways of staying active and at the same time take importance for one’s own health. There have been more studies on the benefits of community gardens regarding social benefits, as well as nutritional benefits, and physical activity 21, 22. Moreover, pandemic had brought lot of changes to mankind – one of these is collecting plants or activities that pull us back into nature. Teacher-participants’ journal and informal interview testified that teachers felt accomplished after the actual hands-on gardening. Greening activity like planting was routinary to most participants. This would demonstrate that teacher-participants have a very good disposition towards gardening.

3.2. Level of Happiness

The subjective happiness is a variable that has gathered increasing interest as it is believed to play a crucial role in well-being and overall happiness 23 Teacher-participants evaluated themselves as to the level of happiness before and after engaging to hands-on school-based gardening. As depicted in Table 2, statements 1, 4 and 8 have high mean difference of 3.79, 3.29, and 4.14, respectively. This means that there was significant improvement of participants well-being after the exposure of the hands-on school gardening activities. Pretty, et. al 24 concluded that in an ecological community like school garden provide direct influential effects on both physical and mental health. They added that there are also indirect outcomes in having a nature-based activity and social engagement which positively affects health and make encouraging progress in terms of adopting healthier lifestyles. Schmutz 25 and Aguilar et. al 26 inferred that gardening activities have a certain impact on health and well-being of a person.

On the other hand, statements 2, 3, 5 and 7 have low mean difference of 0.43, 0.43, 0.21, and 0.21, respectively. This shows that participants have perceived very high remarks before getting into the gardening activities. Moreover, it is notable that teacher-participants have commendable regard on some aspects of life especially at this time of pandemic. This is supported through evidence 24, 25, 27, 28 that observing nature and participating activities such as gardening play an important role in influencing human health and well-being in a positive manner, and that most favorable physical health and psychological well-being are connected to positive emotional environments and the natural environment 29, 30.

3.3. Perceived Stress

Many studies have revealed a protective relationship between the percentage of greenspace where a person lives and their actual 11, 31, 32. Table 3 presents the frequency, average mean, mean difference, and standard deviation of teachers’ level of stress before and after implementation. Based on the summary of interpretations, it clearly appears that teacher-participants’ responses are actually confined within bounds. This would mean that participants’ perception on the level of stress is insignificantly related to what they experience at this present time. Numerous studies have shown that simply viewing a green space through a window can relax people and reduce stress levels 28, 33, 34. The pandemic overruns for about a year, teachers have already discovered ways in coping up with stress. The most and trending coping mechanism amongst mankind is planting, which is also directly related in engaging oneself to gardening activities. In the experimental study of Van den Berg 35 on the effects of gardening in relieving stress, results showed gardening promote relief from acute stress and positive mood was fully restored after gardening.

School gardening recognized how social behavior are enhanced, increase self-esteem and responsibility, improve behavior and self-discipline, and increased care for other people 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44.

3.4. Effect of School-based Gardening to Teacher’s Well-being

After the implementation of hands-on school-based gardening, teacher-participants were interviewed and underwent focus group discussion. Table 4 portrays recurring themes on how hands-on school gardening affect their well-being. All of the participants concurred that in relieving stress, he/she needs to engage himself/herself in hands-on gardening to promote social interaction, communication, motivation and task engagement 25, 35. Thirteen out of fourteen participants strongly confirmed that the intervention helped them improve their well-being. Studies on the benefits of gardening have shown social benefits, as well as nutritional benefits, and physical activity 21, 22. Hawkins et.al 45 emphasized on stress recovery through gardening would benefit people’s health and well-being.

Meantime, 11 out of 14 accepted that through hands-on gardening participants could establish physical and social aspects and could express feelings into it. Hands-on gardening has the ability to trigger emotions in people like seeing the plants growing is a powerful positive emotion inducer. Seeing plants growing have immediate and log-term effects on emotional reactions, mood, social behavior and even memory in both males and females 25, 27. Teacher-participants satisfactorily approved that the intervention was timely in the situation and would be therapeutic to improve oneself. Detweiler et al. 46 concluded that many preliminary studies have reported benefits of horticultural therapy and garden settings in reduction of pain. The benefits of gardening and food Growing for health and well-being improvement in attention, lessening of stress, individuals may develop well-being using plants and horticulture either by active or passive involvement 47.

4. Conclusions and Recommendations

This paper has examined and explored the effectiveness of hands-on school-based gardening as intervention on the teachers’ well-being amidst pandemic. Gardening activities can lead to active engagement and attention where teachers themselves are doing the cleaning and planting of vegetables in the assigned area. Teachers can also learn gardening skills when they incorporate gardening into their daily activity routine. Physical activities in gardening play an important role in positively influencing human health and wellbeing. Teacher-participants strongly agree that caring, weeding and watering of plants are relevant to keep the garden healthy and agreed that everyone can benefit from it – like social benefits, nutritional benefits, and physical activity improves one’s own health. Teacher-participants displayed very good disposition towards gardening. In the level of happiness, teachers have shown significant improvement after being exposed and engaged to hands-on school-based gardening and believed that gardening activities have a positive influence on health and well-being of the person. Moreover, it is notable that teacher-participants have commendable regard on some aspects of life especially at this time of pandemic. It appeared that teachers already learned means in dealing effectively on stress at this pandemic. Planting or collecting plants in a way or another similar to gardening activities was established as mechanism to contend stress. Recurring themes on how hands-on school-based gardening affect teachers psychosocial well-being indicate importance to engage oneself in the gardening activities to increase social interaction, communication, motivation, task engagement, as stress reliever, and improve people’s health and psychosocial well-being.

Hands-on school-based gardening could improve people’s well-being – social interaction, relieving stress, healthier lifestyle and happy disposition in life. It is also in the interest of the researchers to embrace gardening at home. Further studies may be conducted integrating gardening in the lessons among students to understand how effective gardening in their academic performance and point ways on facing life’s challenges.

Acknowledgments

The authors are thankful foremost to the Almighty Father for giving them all the courage, strength, blessings and guidance along the right path. They are also grateful to the following persons: Ferdinand L. Vinco, Jr. and teacher-participants for their full support, cooperation in answering and returning the questionnaires promptly. Researchers are appreciative for the love and understanding of their families.

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Published with license by Science and Education Publishing, Copyright © 2021 Marites M. Gavia, Jolly P. Cabingas, Nympha P. Rodriguez and Jerry E. Pallo

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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Normal Style
Marites M. Gavia, Jolly P. Cabingas, Nympha P. Rodriguez, Jerry E. Pallo. Hands-on School-based Gardening: An Intervention for Teachers’ Well-being amidst Pandemic. Journal of Innovations in Teaching and Learning. Vol. 1, No. 1, 2021, pp 41-46. http://pubs.sciepub.com/jitl/1/1/8
MLA Style
Gavia, Marites M., et al. "Hands-on School-based Gardening: An Intervention for Teachers’ Well-being amidst Pandemic." Journal of Innovations in Teaching and Learning 1.1 (2021): 41-46.
APA Style
Gavia, M. M. , Cabingas, J. P. , Rodriguez, N. P. , & Pallo, J. E. (2021). Hands-on School-based Gardening: An Intervention for Teachers’ Well-being amidst Pandemic. Journal of Innovations in Teaching and Learning, 1(1), 41-46.
Chicago Style
Gavia, Marites M., Jolly P. Cabingas, Nympha P. Rodriguez, and Jerry E. Pallo. "Hands-on School-based Gardening: An Intervention for Teachers’ Well-being amidst Pandemic." Journal of Innovations in Teaching and Learning 1, no. 1 (2021): 41-46.
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[1]  Hodgen, E., and Wylie, C., (2018). Stress and Wellbeing among New Zealand Principals as a report to the New Zealand Principals Federation.
In article      
 
[2]  Malipot, M., (2020). Government Urged to Uplift Wellbeing of Teachers.E-Net Philippines.
In article      
 
[3]  Bassett, T. J. (1979). Vacant lot cultivation: Community gardening in America, 18931978. (master’s thesis). University of California, Berkeley.
In article      
 
[4]  Wood C. J., Pretty, J., and Gri, N. M., (2016). “A case-control study of the health and well-being benefits of allotment gardening”. Journal of Public Health, 38(3) 336-344.
In article      View Article  PubMed
 
[5]  Farrell, H., (2017). Gardening for Mindfulness. London: Mitchell Beazley.
In article      
 
[6]  Louv, Richard (2005). Last Child in the Woods: Saving our children from nature deficit disorder. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books.
In article      
 
[7]  DeMarco, L. W. (1997). The factors affecting elementary school teachers' integration of school gardening into the curriculum. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Virginia Polytechnic and State University, Blacksburg, VA
In article      
 
[8]  Gridley, M. M. (1997). Gardens for teaching: A case study in integrating behavioral factors in the design of outdoor educational environments for children. (Unpublished master thesis). State University of New York, Syracuse, NY.
In article      
 
[9]  Hazzard, E. L. (2010). Utilization of garden-based education to positively impact children’s nutrition knowledge and behaviors (Unpublished doctoral dissertation) University of California, Davis, CA.
In article      
 
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