The impact of school gardens on youth social and emotional learning: a scoping review

Abby M. Lohr, Keegan C. Krause, D. Jean McClelland, Noah Van Gorden, Lynn B. Gerald, Vincent Del Casino, Ada Wilkinson-Lee, Scott C. Carvajal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) has five competencies: relationship skills, responsible decision-making, self-awareness, social awareness, and self-management. A promising practice to promote positive SEL is school garden programming. There is a need to understand how school gardens impact SEL by consolidating existing research. In this scoping review, we synthesized evidence describing the impact of school gardens on youth SEL. We included studies that described school garden interventions, collected data from youth, and measured SEL. We screened 1589 abstracts and 76 full-text articles. Eight studies met the inclusion criteria. While the included qualitative studies demonstrated that school garden programming can positively influence SEL, the included quantitative studies had few statistically significant results. Thus, at this time we can only say that qualitative research from five studies suggests that school garden programs have the potential to successfully enhance experiences that promote SEL but more research is needed to further investigate this claim.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning
StateAccepted/In press - 2020


  • adolescent health
  • child health
  • health promotion
  • school gardens
  • Social and emotional learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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