In Fall 2017, Dr. Gehart evaluated the effectiveness of the mindfulness program at a private preschool-elementary school to evaluate its effectiveness and identify specific benefits. To do so, she invited interested students (with permission of their parents) to:
  • Participate in focus group interviews to share their experiences related to the mindfulness program
  • Complete a pre- and post-test measuring students' daily level of mindfulness
  • Complete a survey about students' perceptions of kindness at the school

The evaluation process was designed to achieve several aims:
  • Increase students' interest in and comfort with science and research
  • Increase students' sense of confidence by having their thoughts, opinions, and experiences heard
  • Increases students' awareness of how they manage stress
  • Provide the school useful information about future program planning

Did Students' Mindfulness Increase?

The first question we asked was: over the 8 week mindfulness program, did students experience a measurable increase in mindfulness? We measured mindfulness using a 15-question scale designed to measure "trait mindfulness": a person's tendency to be mindful on a daily basis. Here is what we found:

  • 25% of students had a significant increase in daily mindfulness
  • 45% of students had a mild-moderate increase in daily mindfulness
  • 30% had no measurable change in their daily level of mindfulness

Thus, overall 70% of students had some measurable improvement over the 8-week program.

What Do Students Say About Mindfulness?

Students reported that they used mindfulness to manage difficult emotions and stress.
"You just kind of learn to control yourself and not get angry all the time."

Many found that the chime helped to relax them, finding ways to also use this at home in and during extracurricular activities.
"Sometimes I want to do something, but whenever I hear the bell, I forget about that and do what I’m supposed to do."

Many students believed their grades and ability to focus improved due to learning mindfulness.
"Like when I forget to study for a test, I feel really upset. Then when I think about it more I start to get it and remember because of the information that we learned in mindfulness and then I start to remember."
"I just take a breath and then go back to my work."

Some students used mindfulness to help them focus on their homework.
"When I do my homework and there’s something I don’t understand, and my nanny’s there and she doesn’t quite understand the whole concept, I just kind of settle myself down. I put my head into it and just think about it and then it just…it works."
"Doing my homework, I like, I breathe before, and I get through it way faster."

Many students reported that they used mindfulness to reduce fighting with their siblings and parents, including using working with their siblings who also attend the school to use mindfulness to end conflicts between them at home.
"I think the mindfulness has helped a lot because I can definitely calm down and not get mad at my sister when she gets angry."
"I usually use it [mindfulness] for everything, because my brother irritates me all the time."
"I don’t get as upset as I used to [when parents are upset with me]. I just calm down more and not...flipping my lid as much."

Several students reported teaching mindfulness to their siblings and friends who were not at Carden.
"I’ve been telling my little brother about ‘your lid’ and stuff like that. I’m pretty sure it’s helped him a lot because he’s not [flipping his lid] anymore."
"My friend who doesn’t go to this school, she flips her lid A LOT at her little sister. So, I told her about mindfulness, and I think she’s been doing better at it because.... I just wanted to tell her about it because she tends to flip her lid a lot at her younger sister. I don’t blame her; her sister can be pretty annoying at times."

Many students stated that the mindfulness program has improved the school climate by increasing kindness and reducing anger between students at school and to help them cope better with challenging peer dynamics.
"Because it helps everybody [at this school] stay calm."
"That like when friends get mad at you now [since the mindfulness program], they don’t get as mad as they did before."
You just kind of learn to control yourself and not get angry all the time.
Carden Student 2017


We also did a survey at the end to measure students' perception of kindness at the school. In summary, students reported that their school was a place that taught, valued, and demonstrated kindness on a regular basis.
  • 100% of students surveyed described their teacher as "kind" (in fact, many rated their teacher's "off the scale" by extending highest rating possible on the formal scale).
  • 100% of students reported that "I am encouraged to be kind at school."
  • 92% of students stated that the adults at the school role modeled kindness regularly.
  • 89% of students endorsed "kindness happens regularly at school."

Dr. Gehart and David Siegel Reflect on Outcomes

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