Planting a seed of experience: Long term effects of a co-curricular ecogarden-based program in higher education in Hong Kong

Chi Chiu CHEANG, Wai-Ki NG, Yuen Sam Diana WONG, Wai Chin LI, Kwok Ho TSOI

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

Abstract

This paper reports on the long-term effectiveness of a non-formal co-curricular educational program based on a campus ecogarden at a Hong Kong university in developing pro-sustainability awareness, attitudes and behavior among undergraduate students. This service-based, nature-based experiential learning program, termed the Ecogarden Farmer and Biodiversity Surveyor, has been running at the university since 2015. The program is divided into two consecutive phases: a training phase comprising various learning activities and a successive internship phase consisting of the all-round practical tasks involved in managing the garden. A retrospective evaluation of the program using phenomenographic approach and content analysis was adopted to reveal the diversity of students’ learning experience, as the indicators of the success of the program. Of 112 participants from 4 cohorts, 32 completed online questionnaires, and semi-structured interviews were successfully conducted with twelve participants, three from each of the four cohorts. The results indicated that the program’s outcomes could be categorized into five themes. Most outcomes fit into the theme ‘an increase in knowledge and skill level,’ followed by ‘rise in environmental awareness,’‘facilitation of personal growth,’ and ‘enhancement of career development.’ Many structural experiences revealed may suggest the success of the program. The longer the participants had participated in the program, the more in-depth and diversified reflection of the senior participants relating to personal development were mentioned. This study provides critical insights into the validity of retrospective program evaluation for assessing the long-term impact of EfS programs by introducing a cross-sectional study of different cohorts as a serial time-point sampling strategy. Copyright © 2021 Cheang, Ng, Wong, Li and Tsoi.
Original languageEnglish
Article number583319
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume11
Early online date15 Jan 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

Citation

Cheang, C.-C., Ng, W.-K., Wong, Y.-S. D., Li, W.-C., & Tsoi, K.-H. (2021). Planting a seed of experience: Long term effects of a co-curricular ecogarden-based program in higher education in Hong Kong. Frontiers in Psychology, 11. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.583319

Keywords

  • Career development
  • Content analysis
  • Environmental awareness
  • Garden-based learning
  • Metacognition
  • Personal growth
  • Phenomenographic study
  • Serial time point sampling
  • PG student publication

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