This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Effects of an Experiential Learning Model of Education on Second Grade Students' Fruit and Vegetable Knowledge, Preference and Consumption




Parmer, Sondra

Type of Degree



Educational Foundations
Leadership and Technology


An experiential education model utilizing a school garden project and classroom nutrition education was explored for its influence on fruit and vegetable knowledge, preference and consumption among 115 second grade students. Students were assigned to one of three groups: (1) a nutrition education and gardening (NE+G) intervention group, (2) a nutrition education only (NE) intervention group or (3) a control group (CG). The intervention consisted of 10 classroom lessons per subject (gardening and nutrition education). In addition, experiential learning activities were conducted through planting, growing and harvesting vegetables in a school garden in the NE+G group. Pre- and post-assessment tools were used and included self-report questionnaires to measure fruit and vegetable knowledge, interview-style taste and rate items to measure fruit and vegetable preference and lunchroom observations to measure fruit and vegetable consumption. Responses were statistically analyzed to determine effects of the experiential model of learning and classroom instruction. A mixed model analysis of variance (ANOVA) design demonstrated that students in the NE+G group (n=39) and the NE group (n=37) exhibited significantly greater improvement in nutrition knowledge, taste ratings and willingness to try fruits and vegetables than did the control group (n=39). Moreover, students in the NE+G group were more likely to choose and consume vegetables in a lunchroom setting at post-assessment than either the NE or CG groups. School gardens as an experiential learning component of nutrition education can increase fruit and vegetable knowledge, preference and consumption among children. These findings suggest that school administrators, classroom teachers and nutrition educators should work closely together to implement school gardens to allow for hands-on learning opportunities as a way to influence dietary habits at an early age.