Senior Honors Projects, 2010-current

Date of Award

Fall 2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)

Department

Department of Health Sciences

Advisor(s)

Georgia Polacek

Paula Maxwell

April Temple

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to find the effect of gardening in a community setting on mood and affect of college students. Participants of the study included sixteen students attending James Madison University. There were eight controls and eight gardening participants in the six-week experiment. All participants took a pre and posttest based on the Positive and Negative Affect Scale-X (PANAS-X). Gardening groups also took the Affect Balance Scale (ABS) after an hour-long gardening session each week. Statistical analysis showed significant changes in several of the items examined by the PANAS-X. Among gardeners, negative affect went down significantly (t=0.019) while feelings of fatigue rose (t=0.035). There were no statistically significant changes from pretest to posttest among the control group. Statistical tests run on the weekly ABS taken by gardeners showed no statistically significant changes, but analysis of individual questions showed some improvements in mood from the early weeks to the later weeks of the experiment. Reflections from gardeners also included statements about the relaxed nature of gardening and its effect as a stress reliever. Gardening participants also experienced increased socialization in the garden as the weeks progressed. The study concluded that gardening does have a significant effect on mood of college students. With a more consistent gardening environment for participants, more defined results may have been found. From the results found in this study, gardening’s effect on mood of college students is a worthwhile topic to continue researching. Further research could include finding effective ways to use gardens on campus to help improve mood of students.

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