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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Exploring practice-linked identities construction in culturally diverse urban youth through an intergenerational garden-based learning project Urueta Ortiz, Tathali


In the last two decades, there has been a growth in garden-based learning (GBL) practices at school grounds and in garden-based programs in North America. An interest in GBL has been propelled by concerns regarding the health of individuals and the health of the planet. Research conducted in this area has mainly focused on the short-term learning outcomes of GBL in areas such as nutrition education and science education. However, little is known about the long-term impact of GBL experiences in students’ lives and identities. The present qualitative case study explored student alumni and parents’ memories about participation in the Intergenerational Landed Learning on the Farm for the Environment Project (ILLP), a one-year intergenerational GBL program. The study focused on a longitudinal investigation of the practice-linked identities that culturally diverse, urban, elementary students constructed through participation in the ILLP, and inquiring into which elements of this GBL experience appear to play a role in supporting the construction of these identities. This study is rooted in several areas of theory including: current sociocultural discourses in science education literature on identity; garden-based learning literature; and the ‘new’ sociology of childhood. Data collection was carried out through focus group and individual interviews. The key finding of this study was the identification of six practice-linked identities related to children’s participation in the ILLP: 1) Identities constructed through relationships with non-parental adults: Farm Friends; 2) Identities constructed through relationships with more than-human-world: Interacting with other non-human animals and systems; 3) Identities constructed through new relationships with food and culture: Intercultural and intergenerational discoveries and frictions ; 4) Identities constructed around the ideas of freedom and agency: Taking risks, taking ownership, taking control; 5) Identities as learners: Expanding the sense of what learning is and where it takes place; and 6) Identities constructed through play: Imagination and pretend play in the forest. Particular aspects of the ILLP experience were identified as supporting the construction of these identities. This study helps to bridge the gaps between GBL theory and practice. Other implications and limitations of the study are discussed, along with suggestions for future research.

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