Mindfulness Makes Teachers Better Teachers

Mindfulness Makes Teachers Better Teachers

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Most teacher training focuses primarily on content and pedagogy, overlooking the very real social, emotional, and cognitive demands of teaching itself. Luckily, learning and cultivating skills of mindfulness. . . can help us to promote the calm, relaxed, but enlivened classroom environment that children need to learn.” – Patricia Jennings

 

In a school setting, mindfulness not only affects teachers, but also the students. Mindfulness has been demonstrated to be helpful in reducing the psychological and physiological responses to stress and for treating and preventing burnout in schools. But the effects of mindfulness on elementary school teachers and their students need further exploration. Are mindful elementary school teachers better teachers?

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention for Teachers: a Study on Teacher and Student Outcomes.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8060685/ ) de Carvalho and colleagues recruited primary school teachers and randomly assigned them to a no-treatment control or to receive 30 hours of mindfulness training delivered over 10 weeks. They were measured before and after training for mindfulness, emotion regulation, self-compassion, self-efficacy, mental health, and burnout. They were also observed in the classroom and rated for “flexibility and ability to adapt to classroom situations, cooperation among students, and group cohesion.” They also recruited parents and students of the teachers. The students measured teacher involvement with students, and the students’ positive and negative emotions, mental health, and emotion control. Finally, the parents rated their child’s social behavior.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the control group, after mindfulness training there were significant improvements in all teacher measurements including the classroom observation measurements. The students of the mindfulness trained teachers rated the teachers as having higher involvement with students and the students of these teachers also had better emotion regulation, higher positive emotions, lower negative emotions, higher well-being and parental ratings of social behavior.

 

It should be noted that the control teachers received no treatment whatsoever. This passive type of control does not allow for the conclusion that it was mindfulness training per se that was responsible for the improvements. Rather any kind of attention to the teachers might result in similar improvements. The study should be replicated comparing teacher mindfulness training to an active control condition such as teacher fitness training.

 

The findings for the teachers replicate previous findings that mindfulness training increases mindfulness, emotion regulation, self-compassion, self-efficacy, mental health, and reduces burnout. The results also demonstrate that teacher mindfulness training makes them more attentive to the needs of their students which improves the students’ emotional well-being and their interactions with others.

 

These findings are remarkable in that they demonstrate how teaching mindfulness to teachers affects the entire classroom system, altering the teachers’ behavior which in turn affects the students’ behavior and well-being. This further suggests that training elementary school teachers in mindfulness will improve the school experience for both the teachers and their students. This could lower teacher burnout while improving the emotional and social development of the children.

 

So, mindfulness makes teachers better teachers.

 

We see mental health benefits. We see some behavioral benefits. Youth are more likely not to engage in conflict — more likely to walk away from contentious discussions. They express greater acceptance of themselves.” – Erica Sibinga

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

de Carvalho, J. S., Oliveira, S., Roberto, M. S., Gonçalves, C., Bárbara, J. M., de Castro, A. F., Pereira, R., Franco, M., Cadima, J., Leal, T., Lemos, M. S., & Marques-Pinto, A. (2021). Effects of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention for Teachers: a Study on Teacher and Student Outcomes. Mindfulness, 1–14. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-021-01635-3

 

Abstract

Objectives

Teachers’ stress can affect their occupational health and negatively impact classroom climate and students’ well-being. This study aims to evaluate the proximal and distal effects of a mindfulness-based program, specially developed to promote teachers’ social-emotional competencies (SEC), across teachers, classroom climates, and students’ outcomes.

Methods

The study followed a randomized trial design with two data collection points (pretest and posttest). Participants in the experimental group (EG) included 123 elementary school teachers, their 1503 students, and these students’ parents (1494), while the control group (CG) comprised 105 elementary school teachers, their 947 students, and these students’ parents (913). A mixed data collection strategy was used that included teachers’ and students’ (self-) report, observational ratings of teachers’ classroom behaviors, and parents’ reports on students.

Results

After the intervention, EG teachers, compared to CG teachers, reported a significant increase in mindfulness and emotional regulation competencies, self-efficacy, and well-being and a decrease in burnout symptoms. Similarly, a significant improvement was found in EG teachers’ classroom behaviors related to students’ engagement. Additionally, significant improvements were also found in EG students’ perceptions of the quality of their teachers’ involvement in classroom relationships, self-reported effect, and social competencies perceived by their parents.

Conclusions

These findings further the knowledge on the role played by mindfulness-based SEC interventions in reducing teachers’ burnout symptoms and cultivating their SEC and well-being, in promoting a nurturing classroom climate and also in promoting the SEC and well-being of students.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8060685/

 

Mindfulness Training Improves Medical Students’ Mindfulness and Briefly Academic Success

Mindfulness Training Improves Medical Students’ Mindfulness and Briefly Academic Success

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“medical students who participate in mindfulness based stress reduction programs see a decrease in anxiety and stress.  Reduction in outside noise combined with the discipline to remain present in the moment can also lead to more effective concentration.” – Brendan Murphy

 

There is a lot of pressure on medical students to excel. This stress might in fact be counterproductive as the increased pressure can actually lead to stress and anxiety which can impede the student’s physical and mental health, well-being, and academic performance. Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in reducing the physiological and psychological responses to stress and improving physical and psychological health. Indeed, these practices have been found to improve psychological health in college students. So, it would be expected that training in mind-body practices would reduce stress and improve the psychological health of medical students.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-based intervention helps preclinical medical students to contain stress, maintain mindfulness and improve academic success.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7934360/ ) Lampe and colleagues recruited preclinical medical students and offered them a midsemester mindfulness training. The course lasted 6-weeks and was an adapted version of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) consisting of meditation, yoga, and body scan training along with home practice and group discussion. They were measured before and after training and 6 months later for perceived stress, mindfulness, and academic test grades. They compared the students who participated in the course to those who did not.

 

They found that both before and after training the higher the students’ levels of mindfulness, the lower the levels of perceived stress. Neither mindfulness nor perceived stress were related to academic test grades. But after training the mindfulness group had significantly higher test grades and levels of mindfulness. 6 months later mindfulness remained significantly higher but there were no significant differences in test grades.

 

The study did not randomly assign participants but rather compared students who voluntarily chose to take a mindfulness course to those who chose not to. There were probably differences between the types of students who volunteered to those who didn’t. The results need to be interpreted with this in mind. Nevertheless, the results suggest, as has previous research, that mindfulness and perceived stress are inversely related. The results also suggest that training in mindfulness during medical education produces a lasting effect on mindfulness but only a transient improvement in academic performance. The improvement in mindfulness did not predict a lasting effect on academic performance. This suggests that more work is needed to identify how to intervene in medical education to reduce stress effects and improve students’ academic performances.

 

So, mindfulness training improves medical students’ mindfulness and briefly academic success.

 

in medical students, higher empathy, lower anxiety, and fewer depression symptoms have been reported by students after participating in MSBR. . . mindfulness meditation may be used to elicit positive emotions, minimize negative affect and rumination, and enable effective emotion regulation.” – Michael Minichiello

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Lampe, L. C., & Müller-Hilke, B. (2021). Mindfulness-based intervention helps preclinical medical students to contain stress, maintain mindfulness and improve academic success. BMC medical education, 21(1), 145. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12909-021-02578-y

 

Abstract

Background

Stress among students is on the rise during early medical school and has been implicated in poor academic performance. Several methods are being discussed to efficiently reduce stress, among them mindfulness-based interventions. We therefore set out to assess how stress, mindfulness, and academic performance are connected and if an intervention on mindfulness based stress reduction could alleviate stress among medical students and improve their academic achievements.

Methods

A non-randomized controlled trial including 143 medical students in their preclinical years was performed in 2019. The students completed two surveys – one in the first, the other in the third term – recording perceived stress and mindfulness via validated scales (PSS-10 and MAAS). In between both, 41 students participated in a voluntary mindfulness-based intervention including six two-hours courses. 86 students served as controls. Scholarly success was assessed via the scores achieved in six exams written during the observation period.

Results

Stress was inversely related with mindfulness and with the results of the most challenging exam. The intervention on mindfulness based stress reduction helped to contain stress and maintain mindfulness during the observation period and this effect lasted for at least six months beyond completion of the intervention. In contrast, beneficial effects on scholarly success were transient and only detectable at completion of the intervention.

Conclusion

Our observation of short- and intermediate term effects resulting from six individual interventions on mindfulness based stress reduction is encouraging and calls for alternative strategies to induce long-lasting impacts.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7934360/

 

Improve the Psychological Well-Being of University Students with Mindfulness

Improve the Psychological Well-Being of University Students with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness apps offer modest but clear benefits to users in terms of improved mental health. They present a promising supplement to traditional mental health services.” – Oskari Lahtinen

 

There is a lot of pressure on university students to excel so that they can get the best jobs after graduation. This stress might in fact be counterproductive as the increased pressure can actually lead to stress and anxiety which can impede the student’s physical and mental health, well-being, and school performance. Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health. Indeed, these practices have been found to improve psychological health in college students.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Mental Health and Wellbeing of University Students: Acceptability, Effectiveness, and Mechanisms of a Mindfulness-Based Course.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8199969/ ) Medlicott and colleagues recruited university students who attended an 8-week mindfulness training. The program was based upon Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and was delivered in 8 weekly 90 minute sessions along with daily home practice. The participants were measured before and after the program and 6 weeks later for expected benefits from the program, wellbeing, mental health, mindfulness, self-compassion, resilience, and academic goals.

 

They found that following the course there were significant improvement in wellbeing. mental health, mindfulness, self-compassion, resilience, and orientation toward their academic goals that were maintained 6 weeks later. The effects were greater for participants who had mental health problems at the beginning of the program. In addition, the greater the amount of home practice, the greater the improvements observed. The amount of change in mindfulness and self-compassion produced by the course was related to the amount of improvement in wellbeing and mental health while the amount of change in resilience was related to the improvements in wellbeing.

 

It has to be recognized that the study did not contain a control, comparison, condition, so it is open to numerous alternative, confounding, explanations. But previous controlled research has demonstrated that mindfulness training produces improvements in wellbeing, mental health, mindfulness, self-compassion, and resilience. So, it is likely that the present findings are the result of the effects of the mindfulness training program rather than some alternative explanation.

 

These results suggest that participating in a mindfulness training program produces significant benefits for the psychological health and wellbeing of university students. The fact their orientation to academic goals was also improved suggests that the program may also improve their academic performance. Indeed, it would be expected that improvement in the students wellbeing and mental health would improve the likelihood of academic success.

 

So, improve the psychological well-being of university students with mindfulness.

 

In college, it’s easy to compile all of the problems we’re facing and place it in to one big feeling of paranoia or stress. Headspace helps sort that out and filter what I should be worried about.” – Ryan Coughlin

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Medlicott, E., Phillips, A., Crane, C., Hinze, V., Taylor, L., Tickell, A., Montero-Marin, J., & Kuyken, W. (2021). The Mental Health and Wellbeing of University Students: Acceptability, Effectiveness, and Mechanisms of a Mindfulness-Based Course. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(11), 6023. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18116023

 

Abstract

Mental health problems are relatively common during university and adversely affect academic outcomes. Evidence suggests that mindfulness can support the mental health and wellbeing of university students. We explored the acceptability and effectiveness of an 8-week instructor-led mindfulness-based course (“Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World”; Williams and Penman, 2011) on improving wellbeing and mental health (self-reported distress), orientation and motivation towards academic goals, and the mechanisms driving these changes. Eighty-six undergraduate and post-graduate students (>18 years) participated. Students engaged well with the course, with 36 (48.0%) completing the whole programme, 52 (69.3%) attending 7 out of 8 sessions, and 71 (94.7%) completing at least half. Significant improvements in wellbeing and mental health were found post-intervention and at 6-week follow-up. Improvements in wellbeing were mediated by mindfulness, self-compassion, and resilience. Improvements in mental health were mediated by improvements in mindfulness and resilience but not self-compassion. Significant improvements in students’ orientation to their academic goal, measured by “commitment” to, “likelihood” of achieving, and feeling more equipped with the “skills and resources” needed, were found at post-intervention and at 6-week follow-up. Whilst exploratory, the results suggest that this mindfulness intervention is acceptable and effective for university students and can support academic study.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8199969/

 

Improve Cognitive Ability in Elementary School Children with Mindfulness

Improve Cognitive Ability in Elementary School Children with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness [has been linked] to two core social-emotional skills: self-regulation and self-awareness. Skills in these areas teach students not only how to recognize their thoughts, emotions, and actions, but also how to react to them in positive ways.” – Waterford.org

 

Childhood is a miraculous period during which the child is dynamically absorbing information from every aspect of its environment. This is particularly evident during the elementary school years. Mindfulness training in school has been shown to have very positive effects. These include improvements in the academic, cognitive, psychological, emotional and social domains. Importantly, mindfulness training in school appears to improve attentional ability which is fundamental to success in all aspects of academic performance. But there have been few studies comparing the effects of mindfulness training to other types of training for elementary schoolchildren.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Versus Story Reading Intervention in Public Elementary Schools: Effects on Executive Functions and Emotional Health.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.576311/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1679696_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20210713_arts_A ) Milaré and colleagues recruited 2 classrooms of children 8-9 years of age. One class received an 8-week mindfulness training that met twice a week for 30 minutes. The instructions were on awareness, generosity, and heartfulness. The other class received 8 weeks of story reading that met twice a week for 15 minutes. The stories were targeted to moral and emotional issues appropriate for children. They were measured before and after training for stress, anxiety, depression, positive and negative emotions, and executive functions including attention.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline both groups had significant improvements in executive functions including attention, processing speed, and controlled attention. On the other hand, the story reading but not mindfulness group had decreases in depression and negative emotions.

 

It should be noted that there wasn’t a control condition, so improvements from baseline might have been due to a number of confounding factors including practice effects, expectancy effects, experimenter bias etc. In addition, there wasn’t random assignment of the children to condition. But in adults it is well established that mindfulness training produces improvements in executive functions including attention. This is not surprising as mindfulness training involves focusing attention which is important for cognitive performance. The present study suggests that these benefits also accrue to 8-9 year-old children. Improving cognitive skills particularly attention in children is important and may well lead to improved academic performance.

 

It is interesting that targeted story reading produced similar cognitive benefits and also some emotional improvements. This may be due to the fact that the stories included emotional issues pertinent to children while the mindfulness training did not include mindfulness of emotions. This suggests that the mindfulness program could be improved by including paying attention to emotions.

 

So, improve cognitive ability in elementary school children with mindfulness.

 

Students . . . have been spending anywhere from 10 to 12 minutes per day on mindfulness exercises. But classes appear to be gaining more instruction time as a result because there are fewer outbursts and disruptions.” – Emily DeRuy

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Milaré CAR, Kozasa EH, Lacerda S, Barrichello C, Tobo PR and Horta ALD (2021) Mindfulness-Based Versus Story Reading Intervention in Public Elementary Schools: Effects on Executive Functions and Emotional Health. Front. Psychol. 12:576311. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.576311

 

Introduction: In this study we compared the effects of a mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) with a story reading intervention (SI) on the executive functions and psychological profile of children in two different public schools in São Paulo, Brazil.

Methods: In this controlled clinical trial, 207 children aged 8 to 9 years old responded to the Five-Digit Test (FDT), stress levels, depression, anxiety, positive and negative affect, at baseline (T0) and 8 weeks later (T1). From T0 to T1, school 1 participated in MBI classes and school 2 in IS classes.

Results: In school 1 (MBI), children improved their scores on all tests except reading (errors) and counting (errors) compared with school 2. No differences were observed between groups in terms of emotional health.

Conclusion: It is feasible to implement MBI or SI in Brazilian public schools. Students in the MBI group presented broader effects in executive functions, while students in the SI group showed a trend toward reduced negative affect and depression symptoms.

Highlights

This study contributes to the scientific evidence of the positive effects of Mindfulness and Story reading on executive functions and emotional well-being in children. Neither intervention had significant effects on depression, anxiety, stress, positive, and negative affect (although Story reading showed a trend in reducing negative affect and depression), while the Mindfulness-Based Intervention had relatively broader effects on executive functions.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.576311/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1679696_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20210713_arts_A

 

Improve the Psychological Well-Being of Medical Students with Mindfulness

Improve the Psychological Well-Being of Medical Students with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Medical students are being trained to have 100 things on their mind at all times. It’s harder and harder to focus on one thing explicitly. [Mindfulness] gives you that skill to know that you can focus on everything at once, but when you need to focus on one thing, you can be present with it.” – Chloe Zimmerman

 

Stress is epidemic in the western workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. In high stress occupations, like healthcare, burnout is all too prevalent. Burnout is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. It is estimated that over 45% of healthcare workers experience burnout. Currently, over a third of healthcare workers report that they are looking for a new job. It not only affects the healthcare providers personally, but also the patients, as it produces a loss of empathy and compassion. Burnout, in fact, it is a threat to the entire healthcare system as it contributes to the shortage of doctors and nurses.

 

Preventing burnout has to be a priority. Contemplative practices have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in treating and preventing burnoutincreasing resilience, and improving sleep. It would be best to provide techniques to combat burnout early in a medical career. Studying medicine can be extremely stressful and many students show distress and express burnout symptoms. The undergraduate medical student level may be an ideal time to intervene.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-based stress reduction for medical students: a narrative review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8105581/ )  Polle and colleagues review and summarize the published research on the effectiveness of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program to improve the psychological well-being of undergraduate medical students. MBSR includes training in meditation, body scan, and yoga, and group discussions normally over an 8-week period. They identified 9 published studies.

 

They report that the published research found that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) produced significant increases in undergraduate medical students mood, mental health, satisfaction with life, and self-compassion and significant reductions in psychological distress, perceived stress, and depression. One study followed up these students 6 years later and found persisting effects of MBSR.

 

The published research paints a clear picture that participating in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program produces lasting benefits for the psychological health of undergraduate medical students. This is important as stress and burnout is prevalent in the medical professions and intervening early may prevent or ameliorate future problems. Incorporation of MBSR into the undergraduate medical curriculum should be considered.

 

So, improve the psychological well-being of medical students with mindfulness.

 

in medical students, higher empathy, lower anxiety, and fewer depression symptoms have been reported by students after participating in MSBR. In summary, mindfulness meditation may be used to elicit positive emotions, minimize negative affect and rumination, and enable effective emotion regulation.”- Michael Minichiello

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Polle, E., & Gair, J. (2021). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for medical students: a narrative review. Canadian medical education journal, 12(2), e74–e80. https://doi.org/10.36834/cmej.68406

 

Abstract

Background

Medical students are at high risk of depression, distress and burnout, which may adversely affect patient safety. There has been growing interest in mindfulness in medical education to improve medical student well-being. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a commonly used, standardized format for teaching mindfulness skills. Previous research has suggested that MBSR may be of particular benefit for medical students. This narrative review aims to further investigate the benefits of MBSR for undergraduate medical students.

Methods

A search of the literature was performed using MedLine, Embase, ERIC, PSYCInfo, and CINAHL to identify relevant studies. A total of 102 papers were identified with this search. After review and application of inclusion and exclusion criteria, nine papers were included in the study.

Results

MBSR training for medical students was associated with increased measures of psychological well-being and self-compassion, as well as improvements in stress, psychological distress and mood. Evidence for effect on empathy was mixed, and the single paper measuring burnout showed no effect. Two studies identified qualitative themes which provided context for the quantitative results.

Conclusions

MBSR benefits medical student well-being and decreases medical student psychological distress and depression.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8105581/

 

Improve Cognition and Performance in 3rd Grade Children with Mindfulness

Improve Cognition and Performance in 3rd Grade Children with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) has linked mindfulness to two core social-emotional skills: self-regulation and self-awareness. Skills in these areas teach students not only how to recognize their thoughts, emotions, and actions, but also how to react to them in positive ways.” – Waterford.org

 

Childhood is a miraculous period during which the child is dynamically absorbing information from every aspect of its environment. This is particularly evident during the elementary school years. Mindfulness training in school has been shown to have very positive effects. These include improvements in the academic, cognitive, psychological, and social domains. Training early in childhood has the potential of jump-starting the child’s academic performance.

 

In today’s Research News article “Promoting Third Graders’ Executive Functions and Literacy: A Pilot Study Examining the Benefits of Mindfulness vs. Relaxation Training.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.643794/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1645362_69_Psycho_20210525_arts_A )  Cordeiro and colleagues recruited 3rd grade students and randomly assigned them to receive 2 30-minute sessions per week for 8 weeks of either mindfulness training or progressive muscle relaxation training. They were measured before and after training for non-verbal intelligence, short-term memory, inhibitory control, and cognitive flexibility, teacher ratings of the child’s short-term memory, inhibitory control, and cognitive flexibility, handwriting fluency, spelling, essay quality, and school grades.

 

They found that for children low in executive function, relaxation training produced significantly greater improvement in executive function while students high in executive function, mindfulness training produced significantly greater improvement in executive function. Further, in children high in cognitive flexibility mindfulness training produced significantly greater improvement in cognitive flexibility. Finally, they found that mindfulness training produced significantly greater improvements in handwriting fluency and school grades than relaxation training.

 

The results were not as straightforward as one might like but still are interesting. They suggest that mindfulness training of 3rd grade students produces cognitive improvements in the students with the greatest cognitive ability to start with and significantly greater improvements in grades and handwriting fluency in all students. It should be noted that there was no follow-up beyond the end of training, so it is not known if the benefits of mindfulness training persist longer than immediately after training.

 

It has been demonstrated in previous research that mindfulness training produces improvement in cognition and school performance. The results of the present study suggest that mindfulness training is beneficial for young children in the 3rd grade improving their thinking ability and school performance. Early interventions in children’s lives and school performance have the potential of producing greater achievements as the child progresses through school. It remains for future research to determine the long-term effects of early mindfulness training.

 

So, improve cognition and performance in 3rd grade children with mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness applies to nearly every part of life. It includes everything from mindful commuting, to being mindful of what we eat (and how it smells and tastes) to being mindful of opportunities to sneak in some physical activity – or rest – during our busy days. And for adults, a good place to start learning the art of mindfulness is from these third graders!” – Health Partners

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Cordeiro C, Magalhães S, Rocha R, Mesquita A, Olive T, Castro SL and Limpo T (2021) Promoting Third Graders’ Executive Functions and Literacy: A Pilot Study Examining the Benefits of Mindfulness vs. Relaxation Training. Front. Psychol. 12:643794. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.643794

 

Research suggested that developing mindfulness skills in children improves proximal outcomes, such as attention and executive functions, as well as distal outcomes, such as academic achievement. Despite empirical evidence supporting this claim, research on the benefits of mindfulness training in child populations is scarce, with some mixed findings in the field. Here, we aimed to fill in this gap, by examining the effects of a mindfulness training on third graders’ proximal and distal outcomes, namely, attention and executive functions (viz., inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility) as well as literacy-related achievement (viz., handwriting fluency, text quality, Portuguese grades). These outcomes were measured with behavioral tasks and teacher ratings. Sixty-six Portuguese children were randomly allocated to an experimental group receiving mindfulness training (n = 29) or an active control group receiving relaxation training (n = 37). Both training programs were implemented by psychologists in two 30-min weekly sessions for 8 weeks. All students were assessed before and after the interventions. Three main findings are noteworthy: (a) mindfulness training enhanced teacher-rated cognitive flexibility and a performance-based composite score of executive functions among children with higher pretest scores; (b) relaxation training improved performance-based cognitive flexibility and the composite score of executive functions among children with lower pretest scores; (c) children receiving mindfulness training had higher handwriting fluency and better grades in Portuguese than those receiving relaxation training. These findings provide preliminary evidence on the benefits of mindfulness training in educational settings and highlight the moderating role of baseline performance on those benefits.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.643794/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1645362_69_Psycho_20210525_arts_A

 

Improve Elementary School Children Behavior with Mindfulness

Improve Elementary School Children Behavior with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Research shows that mindfulness skills improve memory, organizational skills, reading and math scores, all while giving kids the tools they need to handle toxic stress.” – Michelle Kinder

 

Elementary school environments have a huge effect on development. They are also excellent times to teach children the skills to adaptively negotiate its environment. Mindfulness training in school, at all levels has been shown to have very positive effects. These include academic, cognitive, psychological, and social domains. Importantly, mindfulness training in school appears to improve the student’s self-concept. It also improves attentional ability and reduces stress, which are keys to successful learning in school. Since, what occurs in the early years of school can have such a profound, long-term effect on the child it is important to further study the impact of mindfulness training on elementary school children.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of a School-Based Mindfulness Program for Young Children.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8046640/ )  Sciutto and colleagues recruited kindergarten through 3rd grade children aged 5 to 9 years. They were assigned to either receive an 8-week 16 session mindfulness program or to a 4-week delay before the mindfulness program. The teachers rated the children’s behavior for emotional symptoms, conduct problems, hyperactivity, peer problems, prosocial behavior, and student engagement. Teacher engagement was also measured.

 

During the 4-week delay period there were no significant changes in the children’s behavior. But over the 8-week mindfulness training period there was a significant increase in prosocial behaviors and decrease in externalizing behaviors. This was true for all classes except kindergarten. They also found that the higher the levels of teacher engagement and student engagement, the higher the levels of prosocial behaviors and the lower the levels of externalizing behaviors.

 

These are interesting results that suggest that mindfulness training in elementary school children improves their behaviors. Prosocial behaviors including sharing, helping, and cooperating were improved. In fact, the mindfulness program specifically included training in mindful prosocial behavior. So, it was not surprising that these behaviors were improved. Externalizing behaviors including hyperactivity and conduct problems were also improved. Since, these behaviors interfere with instruction and student learning, it would be expected that their reduction would contribute to overall learning, although this was not measured.

 

In addition, the engagement in the program of teachers and students appears to be very important for the benefits to accrue. Hence, strides should be taken to insure engagement. Overall, the results indicate that the mindfulness program is beneficial for the children and the learning environment. It would be interesting to explore whether these effects are transitory or improve student behavior as they progress through the years.

 

So, improve elementary school children behavior with mindfulness.

 

For children, mindfulness can offer relief from whatever difficulties they might be encountering in life. It also gives them the beauty of being in the present moment.” – Annika Harris

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Sciutto, M. J., Veres, D. A., Marinstein, T. L., Bailey, B. F., & Cehelyk, S. K. (2021). Effects of a School-Based Mindfulness Program for Young Children. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 1–12. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-021-01955-x

 

Abstract

Schools are an attractive setting for implementation of mindfulness-based programs because mindfulness practices, by their very nature, align with a wide range of core educational goals. The present study investigated the effects of an 8-week (16 session) school-based mindfulness program for young children across 8 classrooms (K through 2) using a quasi-experimental delayed-intervention control group design. Results indicated that the mindfulness program was associated with significant improvements in teacher ratings of externalizing and prosocial behaviors. Program outcomes were not associated with child sex or race/ethnicity, but did vary by grade. Descriptive analyses suggest that outcomes tended to be more positive in classrooms with higher levels of teacher and student engagement. Results of the present study add to the growing knowledge base on the positive effects of school-based mindfulness programs and point to a need for more rigorous inquiry into the extent to which students and teachers are engaged with mindfulness programs both during the program itself and in their day to day functioning.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8046640/

 

Mindfulness Improves the Attention. Memory, and Stress Resistance of Junior High School Students.

Mindfulness Improves the Attention. Memory, and Stress Resistance of Junior High School Students.

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

youth benefit from learning mindfulness in terms of improved cognitive outcomes, social-emotional skills, and well being. In turn, such benefits may lead to long-term improvements in life.’ – Mindful Schools

 

Childhood and adolescence are miraculous periods during which the youth is dynamically learning and absorbing information from every aspect of its environment. Mindfulness training in school has been shown to have very positive effects. These include improvements in the academic, cognitive, psychological, and social domains. Importantly, mindfulness training in school appears to improve attentional ability which is fundamental to success in all aspects of academic performance. It is unclear the degree to which the students’ levels of mindfulness (trait mindfulness) without training are related to students’ attention, memory, and stress.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Relationship Among Trait Mindfulness, Attention, and Working Memory in Junior School Students Under Different Stressful Situations.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7960675/ ) Li and colleagues performed 2 studies. For both they recruited youths aged 8 to 15 years and measured them for mindfulness, attention and working memory.

 

In the first study they found that the higher the level of mindfulness the higher the levels of attention and working memory. A mediation analysis revealed that mindfulness was associated with working memory directly and also indirectly by being associated with higher levels of attention which in turn were associated with higher levels of working memory. So, the mindfulness association with better working memory was direct and indirect via attention.

 

In a second study they separated the students into a high mindfulness group (top 27%) and a low mindfulness group (bottom 27%). They then measured attention and working memory under 3 conditions; stress-free, single stress, and multiple stresses. The stress-free condition was like that used in study 1. In the single stress condition, a time constraint was placed on the performance of the attention and memory tests. In the multiple stress condition, the time constraint was maintained and additionally the students were informed that the results would be used to determine the top students for individual separate instruction in school.

 

They found that the high mindfulness group had higher attention and working memory scores than the low mindfulness group regardless of condition. They also found that for the high mindfulness group, stress improved both attention and memory scores relative to the stress-free condition with the single stress condition producing the greatest increase. On the other hand, the low mindfulness group had non-significant decreases in performance when stressed.

 

In the present studies the association between mindfulness and attention and working memory are correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. Previous research, however, has clearly demonstrated that mindfulness causes increases in attention and memory. So, the relationship seen here is likely due to a causal connection. The present study, though, demonstrates that the effects of mindfulness on memory are both direct and indirect via effects on attention.

 

The present study also shows that stress improves the performance of high but not low mindfulness students. Stress is known to interfere with attention and memory performance. But mindfulness has been shown to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress. So, it appears that mindfulness reduces the students’ responses to stress and thereby further improves their attention and memory.

 

So, mindfulness improves the attention. memory, and stress resistance of junior high school students.

 

Students who did about an hour of “mindfulness training” for eight days subsequently did better on the GRE as well as tests of working memory and mind-wandering.” – James Hamblin

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Li, Y., Yang, N., Zhang, Y., Xu, W., & Cai, L. (2021). The Relationship Among Trait Mindfulness, Attention, and Working Memory in Junior School Students Under Different Stressful Situations. Frontiers in psychology, 12, 558690. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.558690

 

Abstract

Attention and working memory are important cognitive functions that affect junior school students’ learning ability and academic performance. This study aimed to explore the relationships among trait mindfulness, attention, and working memory and to explore differences in performance between a high trait mindfulness group and a low one in attention and working memory under different stressful situations. In study 1, 216 junior school students completed the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), and their attention and working memory were tested in a non-pressure situation. The results showed that attention had a partial mediating effect between mindfulness and working memory. In study 2, the high trait mindfulness group and the low one were tested for attention and working memory under situations with single and multiple pressures. One notable result was that the attention and working memory performances of the high mindfulness group were all significantly higher than those of the low mindfulness group in every stress situation (no stress, single stress, and multiple stresses). Other important results were that trait mindfulness moderates the relationship between stress and attention and between stress and working memory. These results suggest that trait mindfulness has a protective effect in the process by which various stresses affect attention and working memory. These findings indicate that trait mindfulness is an important psychological quality that affects the attention and working memory of junior school students, and it is also an important psychological resource for effectively coping with the impact of stress on attention and working memory. Therefore, it is possible that improving trait mindfulness may help to improve junior school students’ attention and working memory and enable them to cope better with stress, thereby helping to improve academic performance. This research is of great significance for understanding the association between key psychological qualities and cognitive functions in different stressful situations. These findings also provide insight for future studies in educational psychology.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7960675/

 

University Leaders and Teachers Mindfulness are Associated with Lower Emotional Exhaustion in Teachers

University Leaders and Teachers Mindfulness are Associated with Lower Emotional Exhaustion in Teachers

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“leader mindfulness significantly reduces the emotional exhaustion of university teachers.” – Beini Liu

 

Work is very important for our health and well-being. We spend approximately 25% of our adult lives at work. How we spend that time is immensely important for not only to productivity in the workplace but also to our psychological and physical health. Mindfulness practices have been implemented in the workplace and they have been shown to markedly reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress. This, in turn, improves productivity and the well-being of the employees. As a result, many businesses have incorporated mindfulness practices into the workday.

 

Mindfulness may also help to promote leadership in the workplace. It can potentially do so by enhancing emotion regulation, making the individual better able to recognize, experience, and adaptively respond to their emotions, and making the leader better able to listen to and to understand the needs and emotion of the workers they lead. Hence, the mindfulness of the leader may well be associated with University teachers’ well-being.

 

In today’s Research News article “Influence of Leader Mindfulness on the Emotional Exhaustion of University Teachers: Resources Crossover Effect.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7959755/ ) Liu and colleagues recruited public university leaders and teachers and had them complete a questionnaire measuring leader mindfulness and teacher mindfulness, workplace telepressure, emotional exhaustion, self-efficacy, working hours, and years in current position.

 

They found that with gender, age, tenure, and hours worked statistically controlled that the higher the level of the leader’s mindfulness the lower the level of the teacher’s emotional exhaustion and the lower the levels of telepressure. A mediation analysis revealed the leader’s mindfulness was associated with lower teacher emotional exhaustion directly and also indirectly by being associated with lower telepressure and telepressure was associated with higher levels of teacher emotional exhaustion. This association between the leader’s mindfulness and the lower teacher’s emotional exhaustions was significantly stronger when the teachers had high levels of mindfulness. Finally, they found that the higher the levels of the teacher’s self-efficacy the weaker the relationship between telepressure and emotional exhaustion.

 

The study was correlational so no conclusions regarding causation can be reached. Nevertheless, the associations between the variables are interesting. It is clear that mindfulness is important both within the individual teacher and also in the leader for being associated with lower teacher emotional exhaustion. It has previously been shown that mindfulness decreases burnout. So, the relationships observed here probably results from a causal connection.

 

Workplace telepressure “is a psychological state in which employees are constantly concerned about urgently responding to work-related ICTs [Information and Communications Technologies] during non-working hours.” These communications appear to be associated with higher levels of emotional exhaustion and these, in part, appear to mediate the effects of mindfulness on emotional exhaustion. In addition, when the teachers had high self-efficacy, telepressure had less of an impact on emotional exhaustion.

 

Preventing teacher burnout is important not only for the teacher’s well-being but also for the students’ education. It is clear that mindful academic leadership is important, suggesting that mindfulness training for leaders may improve the workplace environment for the teachers. The teacher’s level of mindfulness and self-efficacy appear also to be important, suggesting that mindfulness and self-efficacy training for the teachers would also likely improve their well-being. The results also suggest that communications to the teachers should be limited and less urgent. Being cognizant of the importance of these relationships can help to improve the environment, psychological health, and performance of university teachers.

 

So, university leaders’ and teachers’ mindfulness are associated with lower emotional exhaustion in teachers.

 

administrators and school leaders can increase retention and efficacy by seeking out ways to support teachers’ self-care and learning of mindfulness techniques.” – Kelsey Milne

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Liu, B., Zhang, Z., & Lu, Q. (2021). Influence of Leader Mindfulness on the Emotional Exhaustion of University Teachers: Resources Crossover Effect. Frontiers in psychology, 12, 597208. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.597208

 

Abstract

This study combined conservation of resources theory with the job demands-resources model to explore the influence of leader mindfulness on the emotional exhaustion of university teachers Using a time-lagged research design, 388 paired data sets were gathered. Multiple regression and bootstrapping were used to test each hypothesis. The results showed that first, leader mindfulness significantly reduces the emotional exhaustion of university teachers. Second, the results showed that workplace telepressure partially mediates the relationship between leader mindfulness and the emotional exhaustion of university teachers. Third, university teacher mindfulness positively moderates the relationship between leader mindfulness and workplace telepressure. Finally, the results of this study indicate that self-efficacy in managing negative emotions negatively moderates the relationship between workplace telepressure and the emotional exhaustion of university teachers. This study empirically examined the interpersonal influence of leader mindfulness and the initial resources effect of university teacher mindfulness and self-efficacy in managing negative emotions from the bilateral perspective of leaders and university teachers.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7959755/

 

Improve Physiological Responses to Stress in Schools with Mind-Body Practices

Improve Physiological Responses to Stress in Schools with Mind-Body Practices

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness exercises have been shown to help students reduce stress and anxiety, gain conscious control over behaviors and attitudes, and improve focus.” – Robin L. Flanigan

 

In the modern world education is a key for success. Where a high school education was sufficient in previous generations, a college degree is now required to succeed in the new knowledge-based economies. There is a lot of pressure on students to excel so that they can get into the best schools and ultimately the best jobs. As a result, parents and students are constantly looking for ways to improve student performance in school. The primary tactic has been to pressure the student and clear away routine tasks and chores so that the student can focus on their studies. But, this might in fact be counterproductive as the increased pressure can actually lead to stress, depression, and anxiety which can impede the student’s mental health, well-being, and school performance.

 

It is, for the most part, beyond the ability of the individual to change the environment to reduce stress, so it is important that methods be found to reduce the students’ responses to stress; to make them more resilient when high levels of stress occur. Mind-body practices including meditationmindfulness training, and yoga practice have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. There is accumulating evidence of the effectiveness of mind-body practices on the students’ stress levels. So, it makes sense to summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mind-Body Physical Activity Interventions and Stress-Related Physiological Markers in Educational Settings: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7795448/ ) Strehli and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published research studies on the ability of mind-body practices to lower physiological indicators of stress in schools. They included studies involving elementary school, high school, and college students.

 

They identified 26 published studies, 80% of which were yoga based. They report that the published research found that the mind-body practices resulted in significant decreases in heart rate, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and stress hormone (cortisol) levels. These effects were stronger for the college students and less so for high school and elementary school children.

 

The results suggest that mind-body practices reduce the physiological indicators of stress in school children and adolescents. This fits with previous findings with a variety of groups that mindfulness practices reduce the physiological responses to stress. This is thought to result from increases in balance in the autonomic nervous system. Regardless the published research literature suggests that mind-body practices are beneficial for school students, particularly college students, reducing their levels of stress.

 

So, improve physiological responses to stress in schools with mind-body practices.

 

Students who engage in mindful movement activities can see a multitude of benefits, including increased strength and energy, better posture, reduced stress and improved attentiveness, self-confidence, self-awareness and self-care habits. Mind-body exercises also provide ways to build and strengthen relationships with others.” – Accredited Schools Online

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Strehli, I., Burns, R. D., Bai, Y., Ziegenfuss, D. H., Block, M. E., & Brusseau, T. A. (2020). Mind-Body Physical Activity Interventions and Stress-Related Physiological Markers in Educational Settings: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(1), 224. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18010224

 

Abstract

Mind–Body Physical Activity (MBPA) in educational settings is one possible preventive strategy for ameliorating stress-related physiological health parameters. The objectives of this study were to conduct a systematic review of the literature with meta-analyses on the effects of MBPA on stress-related physiological health markers in primary, secondary, and higher education students. In accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines, the search for peer-reviewed articles published in English was conducted in PubMed, EBSCOhost, PsychInfo, Scopus, and Cochrane Library databases. Criteria for inclusion consisted of empirical studies targeting the student population (primary, secondary, higher education), studies examining the effectiveness of an MBPA intervention, studies including a control or comparison group (pre-test/post-test studies excluded), studies targeting physiological marker outcomes such as heart rate, blood glucose, cortisol, and blood pressure, and finally, studies examining interventions implemented within educational settings. Twenty-six interventions were eligible for the review and quantitative synthesis, which comprised a total of 1625 participants, with 783 students serving within the control/comparison group. There were statistically significant and large pooled effects for MBPA effectiveness for lowering heart rate (Hedges’ g = −1.71, 95% Confidence Interval (CI): −2.43, −0.98), cortisol (Hedges’ g = −1.32, 95% CI: −2.50, −0.16), and systolic and diastolic blood pressure (Hedges’ g = −1.04, 95% CI: −1.53, −0.58). These effects tended to be stronger in older students compared to younger students. Most analyses were characterized as having high heterogeneity and only 10 of the 26 studies were characterized as good quality (38.4%). MBPA interventions may have a positive impact on specific physiological health markers in students, especially in students within higher education. However, higher-quality research is needed in this area.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7795448/