Date of Graduation

Summer 8-16-2017

Document Type

Project/Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Science in Behavioral Health (MSBH)

College/School

School of Nursing and Health Professions

First Advisor

Dr. Kelly L'Engle

Second Advisor

Dr. Kathleen Raffel

Abstract

Introduction: A growing body of research suggests mindfulness-based classroom interventions are an effective, low cost approach to reducing the effects of toxic stress among youth. The purpose of this project was to identify key sources of stress among urban 7th grade students at De Marillac Academy and develop and test mindfulness techniques to actively engage and potentially improve stress management skills among students.

Methods: Five focus groups with students were conducted to assess the most prominent sources of stress inside and outside of school as well as current self-management strategies. Additionally, anonymous online surveys were distributed to 7th grade parents, faculty, and staff to determine perceived sources of stress and areas for student growth. Based on findings, a nine-week series of mindfulness activities was piloted in the classroom for 30 minutes each week. Activities were designed to encourage motivation, self-awareness, positive decision making, and stress management. Students completed a feedback survey after five and nine weeks.

Results: Academic achievement, staying focused in class, and family problems were identified as the three primary sources of stress. Students responded best to activities that encouraged a space for calm and quiet, interactive learning, and clear explanations. After nine weeks, although some students experienced challenges staying focused and still, most students could accurately describe mindfulness and identify a mindful practice to employ when stressed.

Discussion: The results suggest promising strategies for teaching and engaging urban, low-income students in mindfulness. Future research is recommended to evaluate long-term student behavioral outcomes from mindfulness activities.

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