Also of interest is an analysis of teacher and student surveys from a quantitative perspective, using the means of teacher responses as a way of gauging the perceived strength of an impact relative to other impacts. The first section of the teacher survey consisted of 17 scaled items asking teachers to rate their level of agreement with statements about the impacts they observe on students.
The means of the responses are presented in the table below, in descending order of teachers’ agreement with the statements (i.e., the first statement listed is the one with which the teachers agreed the most, and so forth.)
Teacher survey questions listed in order of agreement
The weeklong experience at Spring Brook Farm had numerous positive impacts on the students who participated. Themes emerging from both student and teacher surveys suggest many laudable outcomes of the program. Both teachers and students made a strong case that spending an intensive week working and living together with a common purpose resulted in many changes to the social dynamic among students, and between students and teachers. Improvements to the social dynamic among students included:
Teachers reported feeling a greater appreciation for their students after the trip, as well as receiving more respect and cooperation from their students. The students reported having a greater affinity for, deeper personal connections with, and an improved sense of respect for their teachers.
Teachers and students also reported on improvements to students’ conflict resolution skills. These improvements to the social dynamic appeared to lead to a better classroom climate back at school. Many students experienced other types of meaningful personal growth while at the farm, including:
It was also noteworthy that students who had not previously achieved social or academic success were often the students who made the most improvement at the farm. Other lesser reported impacts included broadened horizons, agricultural and environmental awareness, increased personal responsibility, and behavioral improvements.
In summary, the week long program at Spring Brook Farm has many important impacts on the students who participate, especially in the realms of personal and social skills. These should not be regarded as the only impacts of the program, but are reported on here as a result of the focused survey design. Perhaps most notably, student expressed great pride in their achievements and newly discovered abilities, and often reported that these gains in self-confidence and self-esteem translated effectively into the students’ lives after the farm. Many of the teachers surveyed have been taking students to Spring Brook Farm for years. According to these teachers’ observations, the impacts described above stay with students for years following the program’s completion.