Exploring Mindfulness Benefits for Students and Teachers in Three German High Schools
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Considerable evidence points to stress and health risks among students and teachers in modern schools. In recent years, mindfulness-based interventions have emerged as an answer to this growing strain. The present study implemented and evaluated a dual approach that introduced mindfulness simultaneously to students and teachers in three different German high schools. We investigated hypothesized improvements in areas of mental health, social-emotional competencies, and creativity among participants who engaged in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Course (MBSR) as well as the processes and mechanisms that underlie the potential effects.
The study employed a controlled waitlist design across three schools. A total of 81 students (grade 11, mean age 16; 63 female, 18 male) and 90 teachers (mean age 45; 66 female, 24 male) participated in this study. In a mixed-methods approach, participants completed psychometric assessment (pre, post, and follow-up measurements) and qualitative semi-structured interviews.
Among students, group comparisons revealed significant improvements with small to medium effect sizes on self-reported mindfulness, perceived stress, anxiety, depression, self-regulation, and emotional competencies. By contrast, teachers showed a significant improvement in medium effect size only on self-reported mindfulness. Explorative analyses and qualitative results expand teachers’ findings and point to benefits in stress management and social emotional competencies. Qualitative results further shed light on course mechanisms and processes among teachers and students.
Results indicate a clearer benefit among students, yet also point to the supportive role mindfulness can assume among teachers. Systemic and implementation factors significantly shaped course results and experience in both populations.
KeywordsMindfulness MBSR Students Teachers School Mental health Stress Social-emotional
We would like to thank the administrations, teachers, and students of participant schools, without whom this research could not have been conducted. We are further very grateful to our MBSR instructors, Marianne Schmidt, Klaus Kuhn, and Susanne Bregulla-Kuhn for their invaluable cooperation, and our research assistants, Bastian Heger, Britta Clasen, Eva Heinecker, Kiran Hug, and Elina Kraemer, for their input and unfailing support. Finally, we would like to extend warm thanks to Günter Figal, Jochen Gimmel, Tobias Keiling, and Anna Keiling for their inspiring contributions and collaboration.
MT. L. and S.G. executed the study, analyzed the data, and wrote the manuscript. S.S. and J.B. designed, supervised, and executed the study and collaborated with writing and editing the manuscript. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript for submission.
The present study was part of a larger Collaborative Research Centre at the University of Freiburg, Germany, on the topic of “Muße” (German) or scholé (Greek). It was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) – Projektnummer 197396619 – SFB 1015.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Written informed consent or written parental consent in the case of minors was collected from all participants. The study protocol was submitted to the Ethics Committee of the Medical Center – University of Freiburg, which declared that ethical assessment is not compulsory for this study. All procedures involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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