Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Scientific Literacy in Food Education: Gardening and Cooking in School
by Strohl, Carrie A., Ph.D., University of California, Davis, 2015, 146; 10036005
Abstract (Summary)

Recent attention to socio-scientific issues such as sustainable agriculture, environmental responsibility and nutritional health has spurred a resurgence of public interest in gardening and cooking. Seen as contexts for fostering scientific literacy—the knowledge domains, methodological approaches, habits of mind and discourse practices that reflect one’s understanding of the role of science in society, gardening and cooking are under-examined fields in science education, in part, because they are under-utilized pedagogies in school settings. Although learning gardens were used historically to foster many aspects of scientific literacy (e.g., cognitive knowledge, norms and methods of science, attitudes toward science and discourse of science), analysis of contemporary studies suggests that science learning in gardens focuses mainly on science knowledge alone. Using multiple conceptions of scientific literacy, I analyzed qualitative data to demonstrate how exploration, talk and text fostered scientific literacy in a school garden. Exploration prompted students to engage in scientific practices such as making observations and constructing explanations from evidence. Talk and text provided background knowledge and accurate information about agricultural, environmental and nutritional topics under study. Using a similar qualitative approach, I present a case study of a third grade teacher who explicitly taught food literacy through culinary arts instruction. Drawing on numerous contextual resources, this teacher created a classroom community of food practice through hands-on cooking lessons, guest chef demonstrations, and school-wide tasting events. As a result, she promoted six different types of knowledge (conceptual, procedural, dispositional, sensory, social, and communal) through leveraging contextual resources. This case study highlights how food literacy is largely contingent on often-overlooked mediators of food literacy: the relationships between participants, the activity, and the type of knowledge invoked.

Scientific literacy in food education continues to be a topic of interest in the fields of public health and of sustainable agriculture, as well as to proponents of the local food movement. This dissertation begins to map a more cohesive and comprehensive approach to gardening and cooking implementation and research in school settings.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Passmore, Cynthia M.
Commitee: Enright, Kerry A., Heckman, Paul
School: University of California, Davis
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 77/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Environmental education, Agricultural education, Science education
Keywords: Cooking, Culinary arts, Food education, Gardening, School gardens, Scientific literacy
Publication Number: 10036005
ISBN: 978-1-339-54181-5
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