An Assessment of a Vocational Horticulture Training Curriculum at a School for Juvenile Offenders
McGuinn, Catherine Palumbo
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A vocational horticulture curriculum was assessed for its effectiveness in strengthening social bonds and changing attitudes about personal success and job preparedness in a group of juvenile offenders. The curriculum focused on vocational training and entry-level job skills in horticulture and landscaping and prepared the youth for internship positions in grounds maintenance. Pre/post-tests based on Hirsch=s tests of social bond for juvenile delinquents were developed to address attitudes toward school, teachers, peers, opinions on personal success, and environmental attitudes. A separate pre/post test dealt with careers and aspirations. Results from these tests were compared to tests administered at a comparable program in an urban setting. Behavioral records for one semester before and the semester during the horticulture curriculum were compared. Daily journals maintained by service-learning student mentors were analyzed for observational themes, as were teachersâ observations and project follow-up interviews. Success of the program was based on the studentsâ successful completion of the program, studentsâ desire and ability to be hired for summer internships and/or employment in horticultural related jobs. Due to the limited size of the study group (6), this research project intends only to provide a profile of several youthsâ response to vocational horticultural training with regard to the objectives stated above. It is exploratory in nature and offers ideas for future larger scale research and confirms some existing trends in research with juvenile offenders.
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