The Effect of the Macdonald Farm-to-School Summer Program on Children's Agricultural Knowledge

Type of resource
The Effect of the Macdonald Farm-to-School Summer Program on Children's Agricultural Knowledge
The author notes that as the world population continues to rise there is an increased movement of people to urban areas and a greater disconnect from rural life. Children living in urban centers may lack the opportunities to learn about agriculture, which affects their daily lives. Studies on elementary aged children's knowledge and understanding of agriculture demonstrate that children have a low level of agriculture literacy. The author evaluated the children's learning from the Farm-to-School summer program located at the McGill University Macdonald Campus Farm.The study period consisted of four 5-day sessions during August, 2016. During this period two thematic programs were offered: Plate-to-Farm and Global Food Security. Both programs were offered in both languages, with one week in English and one week in French. Children and their parents from all four summer program sessions were invited to participate in the study. Five research questions asked were: 1 - Does participation in the 5-day Farm-to-School Program improve children's agricultural knowledge? 2 - Do family demographics impact children's knowledge of agriculture (age, maternal language, ethnicity, gender, etc.) 3 - Do children's agricultural background (previous Farm-to-School experience and family agricultural background) have an impact on their agricultural knowledge? 4 - What are the parents' perceptions on how the summer program improved (or not) their children's agricultural knowledge? 5-What are the parents' perceptions on how the summer program influenced (or not) their children's agricultural behaviours? Children's knowledge was evaluated using a pre-and post-test design. Participants were separated into two age groups (6-8 years old and 9-12 years old), and administered a pre- and post-test. Participants' parents provided demographic information, and completed a post-program survey on perceptions. The author found that English-speaking children had significantly higher scores compared to French-speaking, bilingual and children who spoke other languages. In addition, 9-12-year-olds scored significantly higher than the 6-8-year-old for pre-and post-test scores. Perhaps not surprisingly, previous Farm-to-School summer program experience was also found to have a significant effect on children's test score. The author concluded that the results of her study demonstrate that children's demographic and background profile significantly impact their knowledge and understanding of agriculture. As well, the demographic and background data affected parents' perceptions of their children's learning and behaviour changes.
Master's Thesis
McGill University
# of Pages
Shalit, Naomi. “The Effect of the Macdonald Farm-to-School Summer Program on Children’s Agricultural Knowledge.” Master’s Thesis, McGill University, 2018.
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