This paper, authored in collaboration with researchers from Harvard University’s Center for Education Policy Research and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, reviews findings from a randomized controlled trial (RCT) at a partner school, focused on understanding the effects of a direct-to-student intervention on students’ mindfulness development.
In the RCT (publication in press), middle school students were randomly selected to participate either in the mindfulness intervention or a coding training. About half of the students also took part in brain imaging before and after the intervention. We found that students who participated in the mindfulness program reported less perceived stress and demonstrated improvements in sustained attention. Brain imaging of participants also revealed less reactivity in the amygdala, a brain structure associated with emotion and stress. These findings suggest the potential value of mindfulness interventions for helping students manage stress and improve their attention, two skills related to self-regulation.
The paper describes the study in greater detail and provides additional information about the role of mindfulness in education. We also include recommendations and resources for educators seeking to integrate mindfulness practices into the classroom.