Feasibility Study: Can Mindfulness Practice Benefit Executive Function and Improve Academic Performance?

Title: Feasibility Study: Can Mindfulness Practice Benefit Executive Function and Improve Academic Performance?
Authors: Grandpierre, Zsuzsanna
Date: 2013
Abstract: The purpose of this research was to establish the feasibility of delivering a 6-week long adapted Mindfulness for Academic Success (MAS) program to post-secondary students who were experiencing difficulties with their academic performance. Feasibility was established based on recruitment success (70%), program attendance (70% of participants attending at least four sessions), and homework compliance (70% homework completed). In addition, we hoped to establish the MAS program’s preliminary efficacy in improving executive and academic functioning and reducing mind wandering, inattention, symptoms of ADHD, and psychological distress. Forty participants from Carleton University were randomized to the MAS program (n = 20) or waitlist (WL) condition (n = 20). The overall dropout rate in this study was 38 %. Forty-five percent of the MAS program and 80% of the WL condition participants completed the study. MAS program completers complied with 32% of the overall homework during the five week reporting period and no student completed individually more than 57% of the assigned homework tasks. Accordingly, we did not meet the session attendance or homework completion feasibility requirements. Our preliminary efficacy results indicated significant improvements in some program outcomes in the intent-to-treat sample and results were more robust for MAS completers. Specifically executive functioning—self-management to time, self-organization, self monitoring, self-regulation of emotions, and executive function (EF) related ADHD symptoms—improved and ADHD symptoms decreased in the intent-to-treat sample and results were more robust in the completer sample. Psychological distress symptoms (depression and stress) and mind wandering decreased only in MAS program completers, but no changes were noted in students’ ability to pay attention to presented information during the mind wandering task. Academic functioning as measured by selecting main ideas, the use of study aids, and time management improved in both the intent-to-treat and completer samples. Changes in concentration and information processing were only evident for MAS program completers, however, changes were also noted in academic anxiety, motivation, and the use of test strategies, although effects were small. No changes were observed in participants’ self-restraint (EF), generalized anxiety, attitude toward school, and the use of self-testing in exam preparation. Although efficacy results suggest the MAS program may be beneficial, low program compliance and lack of change in students’ levels of mindfulness compromise the internal validity of this study and make drawing causal conclusions about the program’s efficacy difficult. Furthermore, while program attendance and homework compliance were correlated with some program outcomes, the lack of correlation between formal practices of mindfulness and program outcomes suggest that non-specific factors may have contributed to observed improvement in study outcomes.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/24350
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -