A Canadian study published in the Journal of Further and Higher Education shows that undergraduates who participated in a three-minute breathing activity at the start of classes reported feeling less distracted and more positive. The researchers have argued that their findings demonstrate that mindfulness training can benefit learners without it being laborious (via Times Higher Education).
The latest research delivered the intervention to 59 third-year undergraduate students on a child psychopathology course over the duration of a semester. A control group of 29 similar students on a developmental disabilities module. Based on the results of an end-of-term survey, students in the intervention group said that they were significantly less likely to be distracted in class than those in the control group. They were also more likely to report positive emotions such as enthusiasm.
Mindfulness practices have become a common component of daily life in many settings and may serve to bolster resiliency, particularly among university students. This study expanded on our previous work to compare the effects of receiving or not receiving a brief daily mindfulness-based practice in large-scale university courses. Data were collected from 88 participants enrolled in two third-year psychology courses at a university in Southwestern Ontario, Canada at the beginning and the end of the semester. The scripted ‘Three-Minute Breathing Space’ mindfulness intervention took less than 5 minutes of class time each day in one course, while the course not receiving the intervention served as a control group. By the end of the semester, the intervention group reported experiencing greater enhancements in positive emotionality, and fewer episodes of mind wandering and distractibility than those in the control group. In contrast, there was no detectable effect on mindfulness or negative emotionality in either group. Those receiving the intervention also reported enjoying the practice, and more than half had used the practice outside the course. Results of this study, and others, suggest that brief mindfulness practices taught in university courses may play a role in promoting mental wellness among students. Future work should consider how this brief practice may be applied more broadly and what other resources might be made available to students.