The Blue Pearl: The Efficacy of Teaching Mindfulness Practices to College Students
Format: Journal Article
Publication Year: 2013
Source ID: shanti-sources-81816
Collection: Contemplative Pedagogy in Higher Education
Abstract: Between fall 2003 and spring 2011 I integrated contemplative practices into ten courses with a total of 877 students. Nine of these courses carried credit for the core undergraduate curriculum, either in literature and arts or ideals and values, and students elected my courses from a menu of options. Individual courses ranged from 12 to 409 students. During two of these years, I conducted detailed human subject research using a number of surveys, gathering both quantitative and qualitative data with first-year undergraduates on their experiences with contemplative pedagogy. These courses dealt specifically with art and religion, focusing on traditions where the visual arts are intricately connected to religious practice. I gathered more subjective data in all of the other courses, including large lecture courses on world art from 1500 to the present. In general, my students were not majors in art or religious studies, but came from many disciplines within the arts, social sciences, and sciences, including business and engineering. This essay describes the process and results of the research I conducted with two undergraduate assistants, Katie Irvine and Mindy Bridges. Besides summarizing the findings, I also describe student responses to teaching a specific mindfulness practice—the bow—within a large lecture course with undergraduates. It is notable how little actual data exists about student experiences, and this prompted me to undertake the research that forms the basis for this essay.