Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Targeting Self-Regulation and Disease Resilience in Elementary School Students Through a Mindfulness-Based Social-Emotional Learning Curriculum
by Goodman, Matthew S., Ph.D., Alliant International University, 2019, 103; 10826744
Abstract (Summary)

The ability to self-regulate cognitive, emotional, and physiological activity is integral to mental and physical health. Teaching these skills in early childhood is a promising preventative health intervention. Mindfulness-based Social Emotional Learning (MBSEL) programs aim to enhance social-emotional competencies and improve academic outcomes in classroom children. Barriers to implementing MBSEL programs include the need to alter existing classroom curricula, and allocating resources towards training classroom teachers or hiring an experienced mindfulness facilitator. Inner Explorer (IE) is a MBSEL program that uses audio-guided MP3 tracks to teach mindfulness in 10-minute daily sessions, minimizing classroom interference and negating the need for a facilitator. The current study evaluated the impact of IE on self-regulation skills and academic outcomes in 2nd-4th grade students and teachers in two Southern California elementary schools. Eighty-four students and seven teachers were assigned to either the IE or control group. Students were measured on mindfulness, executive functioning (EF), emotion regulation, and heart rate variability (HRV) at pre- and post-intervention. Teacher-rated grades (School 1 only), days absent and tardy (School 2 only), and social-emotional learning (SEL) scores were provided at the end of trimesters 1-3 (School 1) and semesters 1-2 (School 2). Teachers were measured on mindfulness at pre- and post-intervention. Students in the IE group did not show any pre-post differences in mindfulness, executive functioning, or emotion regulation compared to the control group. Contrary to hypothesis, the IE group showed a significant reduction in HRV from pre- to post-intervention; however, HRV changes were not significant between groups. The IE and control groups did not show any significant differences in grades, SEL scores, or days absent or tardy. Neither teachers in the IE nor control group reported significant changes in mindfulness. Children with lower levels of emotion regulation and mindfulness at baseline were more likely to report “uncomfortable experiences” when practicing mindfulness. Results are discussed in the context of methodological challenges in MBSEL research and future directions are suggested. Teaching self-regulation in early childhood is a promising approach to mitigating future mental and physical health problems, however this study raises questions about the most effective format, delivery, and measurement of MBSEL curricula.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Gevirtz, Richard
Commitee: Pineda, Jaime A., Semple, Randye J.
School: Alliant International University
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 79/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational psychology, Public health, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Heart rate variability, Mindfulness, Self-regulation, Social-emotional learning, Students
Publication Number: 10826744
ISBN: 978-0-438-03202-6
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