The Impact of Mindfulness Training on Schoolchildren’s Academic Performance

  • Michelle De Voy

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Abstract

Schools have adopted a number of different approaches in an attempt to promote good emotional health amongst children and young people. One particular approach that has shown potential to benefit children in a school setting is mindfulness training. Early findings suggest that mindfulness may enhance psychological wellbeing and resilience, as well as improving academic performance. However, few studies have evaluated the effectiveness of mindfulness training in comparison with other comparative interventions.

This thesis explored the impact of mindfulness training on schoolchildren’s academic performance. A systematic review was conducted to explore, evaluate and describe the literature on the psychological effects of mindfulness practise among children and adolescents. A total of 42 studies were reviewed, the findings of which suggest that mindfulness practise impacts cognitive function, psychological distress, and emotional health. The results of the review were used to inform the research hypotheses.

A quasi-randomised controlled trial design with comparisons between an experimental group, (mindfulness training) and two active controls, (study skills and progressive muscle relaxation) was utilised to explore the impact of mindfulness training on school children’s academic performance. Allocation was at class level, and achieved using a randomly-generated allocation sequence in Microsoft Excel. Each intervention was delivered for approximately 40
minutes, over a nine week period. Outcome measures were administered prior to, after, and three months following delivery of the interventions, and consisted of mindfulness, wellbeing, resilience, anxiety, attention, and academic performance. Three empirical studies were conducted on 201 Year 10 schoolchildren, across three separate schools, to test the following hypotheses: H1: Teaching mindfulness to schoolchildren in an inclusive school environment will lead to significantly increased levels of mindfulness, and subsequently, significantly increased levels of resilience and wellbeing, compared to controls; H2: Teaching mindfulness to schoolchildren in an inclusive school environment will have a significant impact on academic outcomes, compared controls; H3: Teaching mindfulness to schoolchildren in an inclusive school environment will lead to significantly increased levels of attention compared to controls; H4: Teaching mindfulness to schoolchildren in an inclusive school environment will lead to significantly reduced levels of anxiety compared to controls.

The results of the first study, which tested hypotheses one and two, indicated that
exposing students (n = 49) to mindfulness training, resulted in a significant increase in levels of mindfulness, (p = .02) but did not result in any significant differences in levels of well-being, resilience or academic performance. The results of the second study also testing hypotheses one and two, indicated that exposing students (n = 150) to mindfulness training, did not result
in any significant changes to levels of mindfulness (p = 0.88). While the results from the third, which tested all four hypotheses, indicated that exposing students (n = 17) to mindfulness training, did not result in any significant changes to levels of mindfulness (p = 0.16).

Collectively the findings of this thesis suggest that mindfulness training as delivered in this study, had no more potential to impact Year 10 schoolchildren’s academic performance or levels of well-being, resilience, anxiety or attention, than a relaxation intervention or study skills program. However, whilst the results of this thesis don’t suggest that mindfulness is any more efficacious than comparative controls, further research is required in order to obtain evidence of the circumstances in which mindfulness may be efficacious.

Date of AwardApr 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
SupervisorClare Wood (Supervisor), Tony Lawrence (Supervisor) & Christine Grant (Supervisor)

Cite this

The Impact of Mindfulness Training on Schoolchildren’s Academic Performance
De Voy, M. (Author). Apr 2019

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy