Date of Graduation

2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

College/School

School of Education

Department/Program

Learning and Instruction

First Advisor

Mathew Mitchell

Second Advisor

Rhonda Magee

Third Advisor

Kevin Oh

Abstract

Many graduate interpreting students struggle because the real-time, interactive nature of interpreting dictates that they be able to regulate their attention across different parallel cognitive activities and manage the inherent stress and unpredictability of the task. Within the framework of Cognitive Load Theory, this mixed-methods study explored the effect of short-term mindfulness training on consecutive interpreting exam performance using a quasi-experimental repeated-measures design. It also examined the relationships among mindfulness, stress, aspects of attention, and interpreting exam performance. The sample included 67 students (age M = 26.9 years; 82% female) across seven language programs (Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and Spanish). The mindfulness (treatment) group (n = 20) included all students enrolled in Introduction to Interpreting into English who also enrolled in the specially developed Mindfulness for Interpreters elective course. The control group (n = 47) included all other students enrolled in the same introductory interpreting course for each language. The mindfulness group underwent a 4-week (12 hour) mindfulness training. All participants were administered pretests and posttests for consecutive interpreting exam performance (midterm and final), mindfulness (CAMS-R), perceived stress (PSS-10), and aspects of attention (d2 Test of Attention). Qualitative data was collected from the treatment group via online weekly logs, a final written reflection, and a focus group. On average, students in the mindfulness group scored higher on the final interpreting exam than on the midterm, while students in the control group scored lower, there being a small effect size difference in favor of the mindfulness group both for Accuracy (d = .24) and Delivery (d = .33). The qualitative data suggest that this difference may be attributable to the greater present-focus awareness, self-compassion, acceptance, and self-regulation of attention and emotion that mindfulness-group participants had developed. Mindfulness training appears to help interpreting students optimize their learning and performance by strengthening their self-regulation of attention and emotion and thereby reducing the extraneous load of internal distractors such as mind-wandering, self-criticism, and nerves.

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