Theses and Dissertations


Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Swortzel, Kirk A.

Committee Member

Newman, Michael E.

Committee Member

Downey, Laura H.

Committee Member

Phillips, Tommy M.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Agricultural Science

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


School of Human Sciences


The purpose of this study was to describe the perceptions middle school students had about agriculture and gardening as part of the GrOW (Gardening and Overall Wellness) Program. This included multiple constructs, including students’ gardening efficacy, perceptions of those who had already completed the GrOW Program, perceptions of those who had not completed the GrOW Program, and students’ future interests in gardening. The population for this study was sixth-grade students at the Partnership Middle School in Starkville, Mississippi. A quantitative instrument was used to assess the perceptions of the students (n = 222).

Overall, students had positive perceptions about the GrOW Program. They believed it would help them in being able to assist their families in raising a garden. Students understood that watering and weeding were important in keeping a garden healthy, and they liked being outdoors. Several recommendations for future research were revealed through this study. Surveying other middle schools that also have gardening programs with similar and different demographics would provide a complete evaluation of gardening perceptions. For future studies on this program, having sixth-grade students complete the survey at the beginning and end of the school year would provide a more detailed view of what the students perceptions of the GrOW Program were for that school year. Finally, since students’ views tend to change over time, a longitudinal study to better explain student perceptions of agriculture and gardening. The GrOW program has potential in serving as a model and providing resources for other schools wanting to develop a curriculum-based gardening program.