2022 journal article
Use of nature-based schoolyards predicts students’ perceptions of schoolyards as places to support learning, play, and mental health
Environmental Education Research.
Although green schoolyards provide many benefits to children and communities, little research explores students’ perceptions of these benefits and how natural elements (e.g. gardens, trees) and associated use shape student experience. We examine the relationship between nature-based attributes, nature-based activities, and teacher-led activities with students’ perceptions of schoolyards’ benefits to self (e.g. feeling calm, good place to learn) and to community (e.g. contributions to cleaner water, increased biodiversity). We measured 199 3rd -6th grade students’ perceptions of schoolyards’ benefits from 9 schools in Raleigh, North Carolina. Overall, students viewed schoolyards positively, and recognized more benefits to self than community. We found that the relationship between the presence of nature-based attributes and students’ positive feelings was limited. Instead, we found that nature-based activities and teacher-led activities had a positive relationship with students’ positive feelings. Our findings suggest that school greening efforts need to be paired with policies and curricular practices to encourage interaction with natural elements to ensure benefits are fully realized by students.Supplemental data for this article is available online at https://doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2022.2032612 .