The Impact of Nature Based Guidance Lessons on Third Grade Students' Anxiety and Connection to Nature
AuthorSheridan, Bethany Frances
Counseling and Educational Psychology
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This study investigated the effect of nature-based guidance lessons, a specific application of ecotherapy, on anxiety and connection to nature among third grade elementary school students. Ecotherapy has been an effective treatment for anxiety among adults, but there is scant literature regarding ecotherapy treatment for children, and no other studies thus far have examined ecotherapy as implemented by a school counselor (Han, 2009; Jordan, 2009; Wilson et al., 2011). Additionally, some researchers have postulated that connection to nature mediates the positive outcomes observed from ecotherapy treatment (Bird, 2007; Otto & Pensini, 2017). An elementary school was recruited through convenience sampling and the specific classes included in this study were four third grade classes, representing the entire grade level at the school. Participants were given anxiety (BAI-Y) and connection to nature (CNI) assessments one week immediately before and after the six-week intervention. Data was analyzed using a two-way mixed ANOVA for each assessment, and t-tests were done to establish group equivalence at baseline. Results for the BAI-Y indicated a significant interaction between treatment condition and time (F(1,58)=14.772, p<.0, ηp2=.203), but no significant within groups effect (F(1,58)=2.856, p=.096, ηp2=.047). Results for the CNI indicated no significant interaction between treatment condition and time (F(1,58)=0.052, p=.821, ηp2=.001), but a significant within groups main effect (F(1,58)=4.48, p=.039, ηp2=.072). Thus, the intervention lessened anxiety for those in the experimental group and connection to nature increased among both groups. More research in the area of ecotherapy in school settings is recommended to further investigate the findings of this study.