Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Education




Dr. Pamela Bishop

2nd Supervisor

Dr. Rita Gardiner


The importance of social and emotional learning in the life of a student is now being recognized as a factor for academic and life success. How a garden can help in the promotion of skills related to social and emotional learning will provide further justification for the implementation of gardens in schools. The purpose of this exploratory, interpretivist qualitative study, with data collected from a purposive sample of educators involved in classroom-based education within schools, was to explore the social and emotional practices of primary grade students (kindergarten through grade five). The sample size consisted of 14 educators who were located across six schools located throughout Southwestern Ontario. Participants included vice principals, special education resource room teachers (SERR), classroom teachers, and early childhood educators (ECE). All participants worked with grades kindergarten through five, respectively, in urban elementary schools. Qualitative data consisted of participant interviews that were recorded and later transcribed, educators’ observations and field notes, and my own personal field notes.

Through conclusions drawn from this case study, demonstrate that gardening experiences benefitted most students, but in particular, those students who have diverse needs. Further results demonstrated that the social and emotional skills related to collaboration with others and interpersonal conflict resolution between students increased when students were involved in gardens and gardening experiences. Connected to the results of this study are recommendations for an examination of policies related to school gardens for Boards of Education and recommendations to educators to think of school gardens as being able to provide an opportunity for a variety of learning experiences.