Identifying and Improving Green Spaces on a College Campus: A Photovoice Study

Research suggests that a large percent of college students experience stress due to the demands of college life. Campus health professionals use a wide range of interventions to reduce student stress; however, the ability of green spaces on campuses to alleviate stress is often lacking in college health programs and related research. In this study, photovoice methodology was used to conduct a community-based participatory research project in order to identify and improve campus green spaces that students frequent for stress relief. Participants included 45 undergraduate students enrolled in an emotional health course. Students were instructed to take photos that addressed two open-ended questions: (1) What green spaces on campus do you visit to alleviate stress? (2) How could the green spaces on campus be improved for alleviating stress? Afterward, students analyzed and placed their photos into distinct themes. Results showed that students enjoyed green spaces that featured both man-made structures (e.g., swings, fountains, benches) and exclusively natural areas (e.g., magnolia trees, campus parks). Students indicated that campus areas in need of improvement for alleviating stress included trash cans, areas lacking landscaping, piles of cigarette butts, and a dilapidated campus tower. Spaces that helped alleviate stress and spaces that needed improvement were both reflective of Attention Restoration Theory. At the culmination of the project, the students shared their findings with the campus community at a photo exhibit. During the exhibit, students’ voices were heard by campus administrators in positions of authority (e.g., chancellor, director of Facilities Operations, grounds crew supervisor).

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Description

Research suggests that a large percent of college students experience stress due to the demands of college life. Campus health professionals use a wide range of interventions to reduce student stress; however, the ability of green spaces on campuses to alleviate stress is often lacking in college health programs and related research. In this study, photovoice methodology was used to conduct a community-based participatory research project in order to identify and improve campus green spaces that students frequent for stress relief. Participants included 45 undergraduate students enrolled in an emotional health course. Students were instructed to take photos that addressed two open-ended questions: (1) What green spaces on campus do you visit to alleviate stress? (2) How could the green spaces on campus be improved for alleviating stress? Afterward, students analyzed and placed their photos into distinct themes. Results showed that students enjoyed green spaces that featured both man-made structures (e.g., swings, fountains, benches) and exclusively natural areas (e.g., magnolia trees, campus parks). Students indicated that campus areas in need of improvement for alleviating stress included trash cans, areas lacking landscaping, piles of cigarette butts, and a dilapidated campus tower. Spaces that helped alleviate stress and spaces that needed improvement were both reflective of Attention Restoration Theory. At the culmination of the project, the students shared their findings with the campus community at a photo exhibit. During the exhibit, students’ voices were heard by campus administrators in positions of authority (e.g., chancellor, director of Facilities Operations, grounds crew supervisor).

Classification
Resource Type
Format
Subject
Keyword Attention Restoration Theory, Environmental Psychology, Green Spaces, Natural Environments, Stress Reduction
Date Of Record Creation 2019-01-26 19:50:21
Education Level
Date Last Modified 12/28/2015 16:29
Language English
Date Record Checked: 12/28/2015 15:53 (W3C-DTF)

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