Thinking Outside The Circle: Reflections On School-Based Garden Research

Year: 2015

Author: Clague, Liesa, Harrison, Neil, Stewart, Katherine

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

School-based gardens (SBGs) are contributing to enhancements in areas of academic performance, nutrition, health, connectedness and engagement of students. While considerable research has been conducted in the North American context, research in Australia provides limited understanding of the motivational impact of SBGs. The aim of this project is to explore the impact of garden-based educational programs from the primary students’ perspectives. To explore these perspectives, the study uses photovoice as a medium to engage students to become researchers in their own right. Through the use of photovoice, students are positioned so that they have control over how they engage with their SBG, and what they report as significant in terms of their own learning.

The use of Photovoice as a data collection method is contextualized within the philosophical frame of an approach to deep listening and learning. As an Aboriginal researcher the journey is to find a way that sits well with being true to all the participants in the research process and to understand that being clear in a culturally sensitive approach to learning is important. The theoretical components highlight an ancient Aboriginal approach to learning, called ‘Dadirri’. This has been used as a philosophical framework to enhance both knowledge gained that would more easily be identified as relating to competencies involved within the core curriculum in addition to concepts, such as self-esteem that would likely enliven, improve and allow growth in life skills for the student, by using the Dadirri approach of deep listening.