Impact of Brief In-class Mindfulness Training Sessions on Trait Mindfulness, Psychological Distress, Physiology, and Learning Outcomes in Undergraduate Students
Type of DegreePhD Dissertation
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Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) courses typically consist of 20 hrs of training but smaller doses can be useful in stress reduction (e.g., Boettcher, et al., 2014). To isolate other mindful focus from non-directed silent time, undergraduates were assigned to mindfulness meditation (MM) or control (C) conditions. Twice a week in class, MM listened to a 3-minute-long pre-recorded mindfulness body scan meditation, while C sat silently to control for the directed focus involved in meditating. With a mobile application, students measured their heart rates as an indicator of stress after meditation practice and before exams. We measured their trait mindfulness using the Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ; Baer et al., 2008), and trait anxiety at pretest and then again at the end of 5 and 10 weeks. Participants also reported their valence and arousal before and after each 3-min meditation or silence. Two of our three hypotheses were at least partially supported: group predicted final grades, and time spent meditating or sitting in silence voluntarily outside of class was negatively correlated with heart rate, anxiety, and impulsiveness. Overall trait changes were not induced by our meditation intervention. Qualitative reflections suggest positive changes in experience of everyday life and academic work for some participants, suggesting practical significance of including meditation or another type of break into the classroom if better integrated into the cirriculum.