Undergraduate college students’ awareness and perception of nature - a photovoice study

Whitlee Migl, Haley Mathis, Matthew Spencer, Ruby Hernandez, Jay E. Maddock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: There has been limited research on college campus’ green spaces and their benefits to students. This study aimed to identify relationships between a Texas campus’s green spaces and students’ knowledge of their health benefits and their perception of their health compared to the campus’ indoor built environments. Methods: Photovoice was utilized to answer this study’s research questions. Participants were instructed to take a photograph inside a building on campus and one outdoors anywhere on campus. Participants answered a questionnaire containing health-related questions, demographics, and nature relationship questions. Additionally, there was an in-class analysis and discussion to characterize overarching themes, knowledge, and evoked emotions. Frequencies, percentages, and a paired t-test were utilized to investigate the hypothesis that through the application of photovoice, participants would display more knowledge of nature’s health benefits and a better perception of areas providing emotional, mental, physical, and social health benefits when in these green spaces compared to the indoor built environments on campus. Results: 122 students took photographs and answered the questionnaire. 91 students participated in the in-class discussion. Most students felt more positive (80%) and perceived better health with their outdoor location compared to their indoor. They also responded higher to having more positive overall health benefits (63%) outdoors than indoors. Conclusions: These findings further solidified nature improves overall mood, there is a positive relationship between health and nature, and people are aware of it. Future studies should attempt to identify barriers accessing campus green spaces and develop interventions to encourage students to utilize these spaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2515
Pages (from-to)2515
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 15 2023


  • Health
  • Knowledge
  • Nature
  • Outdoor
  • Perception
  • Photovoice
  • Built Environment
  • Humans
  • Texas
  • Students/psychology
  • Universities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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