Meditation in the Higher-Education Classroom: Meditation Training Improves Student Knowledge Retention during Lectures

Abstract

The cognitive skills required for successful knowledge retention may be influenced by meditation training. The current studies examined the effects of meditation on the knowledge retention of students. In three experimental studies, participants from three introductory psychology courses randomly received either brief meditation training or rest, listened to a class lecture, then took a post-lecture quiz that assessed students’ knowledge of the lecture material. The results indicated that meditation improved students’ retention of the information conveyed during the lecture in each of the three experiments. Mood, relaxation, and class interest were not affected by the meditation training. Limitations and implications are discussed.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Arias, A. J., Steinberg, K., Banga, A., & Trestman, R. L. (2006). Systematic review of the efficacy of meditation techniques as treatments for medical illness. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 12, 817–832.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Baddeley, A. (2003). Working memory: Looking back and looking forward. Neuroscience, 4, 829–839. doi:10.1038/nrn1201.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Basak, C., Boot, W. R., Voss, M. W., & Kramer, A. F. (2008). Can training in a real-time strategy video game attenuate cognitive decline in older adults? Psychology and Aging, 23, 765–777. doi:10.1037/a0013494.

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Beauchemin, J., Hutchins, T. L., & Patterson, F. (2008). Mindfulness meditation may lessen anxiety, promote social skills, and improve academic performance among adolescents with learning disabilities. Complementary Health Practice Review, 13, 34–45. doi:10.1177/1533210107311624.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Brown, K. W., Ryan, R. M., & Creswell, J. D. (2007). Mindfulness: Theoretical foundations and evidence for its salutary effects. Psychological Inquiry, 18, 211–237. doi:10.1080/10478400701598298.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Butler, D. L., & Winne, P. H. (1995). Feedback and self-regulated learning: A theoretical synthesis. Review of Educational Research, 65, 245–281. doi:10.3102/00346543065003245.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Cahn, B. R., & Polich, J. (2006). Meditation states and traits: EEG, ERP, and neuroimaging studies. Psychological Bulletin, 132, 180–211. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.132.2.180.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Chan, D., & Woollacott, M. (2007). Effects of level of meditation experience on attentional focus: Is the efficiency of executive or orientation networks improved? Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 13, 651–657. doi:10.1089/acm.2007.7022.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. (0805802835)

  10. Fan, J., McCandliss, B. D., Sommer, T., Raz, A., & Posner, M. I. (2002). Testing the efficiency and independence of attentional networks. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 14, 340–347. doi:10.1162/089892902317361886.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Fiebert, M. S., & Mead, T. M. (1981). Meditation and academic performance. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 53, 447–450.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Flowers, L. A. (2002). Developing purpose in college: Differences between freshmen and seniors. College Student Journal, 36, 478.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Griggs, R. A. (2003). Helping students gain insight into mental set. Teaching of Psychology, 30, 143–145.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Grossman, P., Niemann, L., Schmidt, S., & Walach, H. (2004). Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health benefits. A meta-analysis. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 57, 35–43.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Hull, D. B. (2001). Teaching students about international psychology. Teaching of Psychology, 28, 29–32. doi:10.1207/S15328023TOP2801_07.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Innes, K. E., Selfe, T. K., Brown, C. J., Rose, K. M., & Thompson-Heisterman, A. (2012). The effects of meditation on perceived stress and related indices of psychological status and sympathetic activation in persons with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers: A pilot study. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012, 1–8. doi:10.1155/2012/927509.

    Google Scholar 

  17. James, W. (1890). The principles of psychology. New York: Holt.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Kapleau, R. P. (1980). The three pillars of Zen: Teaching, practice, and enlightenment. NY: Anchor.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Kitsantas, A., Winsler, A., & Huie, F. (2008). Self-regulation and ability predictors of academic success during college: A predictive validity study. Journal of Advanced Academics, 20, 42–68.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Kirk, U., Downer, J., & Montague, P. R. (2011). Interoception drives increased rational decision-making in meditators playing the ultimate game. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 5, 1–11.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Konrad, K., Neufang, S., Hanisch, C., Fink, G. R., & Herpertz-Dahlmann, B. (2006). Dysfunctional attentional networks in children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder: Evidence from an event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging study. Biological Psychiatry, 59, 643–651. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2005.08.013.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Kozhevnikov, M., Louchakova, O., Josipovic, Z., & Motes, M. A. (2009). The enhancement of visuospatial processing efficiency through Buddhist deity meditation. Psychological Science, 20, 645–653. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02345.x.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Kramarski, B., & Mevarech, Z. R. (2003). Enhancing mathematical reasoning in the classroom: The effects of cooperative learning and metacognitive training. American Educational Research Journal, 40, 281–310. doi:10.3102/00028312040001281.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Lazar, S. W., Kerr, C. E., Wasserman, R. H., Gray, J. R., Greve, D. N., et al. (2005). Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness. Neuroreport, 16, 1893–1897. doi:10.1097/01.wnr.0000186598.66243.19.

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Leung, A. K.-y., Maddux, W., Galinsky, A. D., & Chiu, C.-y. (2008). Multicultural experience enhances creativity: The when and how. American Psychologist, 3, 169–181. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.63.3.169.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Lutz, A., Slagter, H. A., Dunne, J. D., & Davidson, R. J. (2008). Attention regulation and monitoring in meditation. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 12, 163–169.

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Lutz, A., Slagter, H. A., Rawlings, N. B., Francis, A. D., Greischar, L. L., et al. (2009). Training enhances attentional stability: Neural and behavioral evidence. The Journal of Neuroscience, 29, 13418–13427. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1614-09.2009.

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Ly, M., & Spezio, M. L. (2009). The effect of meditation on neural systems implicated in social judgments. NeuroImage, 47, S194. doi:10.1016/S1053-8119(09)72190-1.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Manger, T., Eikeland, O.-J., & Asbjornsen, A. (2002). Effects of social-cognitive training on students’ locus of control. School Psychology International, 23, 342–354. doi:10.1177/0143034302023003237.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Mayer, J. D., & Gaschke, Y. N. (1988). The experience and meta-experience of mood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55, 102–111. doi:10.1037//0022-3514.55.1.102.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Michaelson, C. (2006). Integrating eastern and western approaches to psychology: An undergraduate senior seminar. Teaching of Psychology, 33, 142–144.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Meiklejohn, J., Phillips, C., Freedman, M. L., Griffin, M. L., Biegel, G., et al. (2012). Integrating mindfulness training into K-12 education: Fostering the resilience of teachers and students. Mindfulness. doi:10.1007/s12671-012-0094-5.

  33. Moore, A., & Malinowski, P. (2009). Meditation, mindfulness and cognitive flexibility. Consciousness and Cognition, 18, 176–186. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2008.12.008.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Muraven, M., Tice, D. M., & Baumeister, R. F. (1998). Self-control as limited resource: Regulatory depletion patterns. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 774–789. doi:10.1037//0022-3514.74.3.774.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Muraven, M. R., & Baumeister, R. F. (2000). Self-regulation and depletion of limited resources: Does self-control resemble a muscle? Psychological Bulletin, 126, 247–259. doi:10.1037//0033-2909.126.2.247.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Muraven, M., Shmueli, D., & Burkley, E. (2006). Conserving self-control strength. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 524–537. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.91.3.524.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Napora, L. (2011). Meditation in higher education: The question of change, a current problem, and evidence toward a solution. Biofeedback, 39, 64–66. doi:10.5298/1081-5937-39.2.06.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Norton, M., Holm, J. E., & McSherry, W. C. (1997). Behavioral assessment of relaxation: The validity of a Behavioral Rating Scale. Journal of Behavioral Therapy Experimental Psychiatry, 28, 129–137.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Nota, L., Soresi, S., & Zimmerman, B. J. (2004). Self-regulation and academic achievement and resilience: A longitudinal study. International Journal of Educational Research, 41(I), 198–215.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Pagnoni, G., & Cekic, M. (2007). Age effects on gray matter volume and attentional performance in Zen meditation. Neurobiology of Aging, 28, 1623–1627. doi:10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2007.06.008.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Poppen, R. (1988). Behavioral relaxation training and assessment. New York: Pergamon. (0080355668)

  42. Ramsburg, J. T., & Youmans, R. J. (2012). Think outside the box: The effects of cognitive training on creative problem solving. Proceedings of the Thirty-Fourth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society

  43. Schmeichel, B. J., Vohs, K. D., & Baumeister, R. F. (2003). Intellectual performance and ego depletion: Role of the self in logical reasoning and other information processing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 33–46. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.85.1.33.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Shapiro, S. L., Brown, K. W., & Astin, J. (2011). Toward the integration of meditation into higher education: A review of research evidence. Teachers College Record, 113, 493–528.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Smit, A. S., Eling, P. A. T. M., & Coenen, A. M. L. (2004). Mental effort causes vigilance decrease due to resource depletion. Acta Psychologica, 115, 35–42. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2003.11.001.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Smith, G. E., Housen, P., Yaffe, K., Ruff, R., Kennison, R. F., et al. (2009). A cognitive training program based on principles of brain plasticity: Results from the improvement in memory with plasticity-based adaptive cognitive training (IMPACT) study. Journal of American Geriatric Society, 57, 594–603. doi:10.1111/j.1532-5415.2008.02167.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. So, K. T., & Orme-Johnson, D. W. (2001). Three randomized experiments on the longitudinal effects of the transcendental meditation technique on cognition. Intelligence, 29, 419–441. doi:10.1016/S0160-2896(01)00070-8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Srinivasan, N., & Baijal, S. (2007). Concentrative meditation enhances preattentive processing: A mismatch negativity study. NeuroReport, 0, 1–4. doi:10.1097/WNR.0b013e3282f0d2d8.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Tang, Y., Ma, Y., Wang, J., Fan, Y., Feng, S., Lu, Q., et al. (2007). Short-term meditation training improves attention and self-regulation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104, 17152–17156. doi:10.1073/pnas.0707678104.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Travis, F., & Shear, J. (2010). Focused attention, open monitoring and automatic self-transcending: Categories to organize meditations from Vedic, Buddhist and Chinese traditions. Consciousness and Cognition, 19, 1110–1118. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2010.01.007.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  51. van Leeuwen, S., Müller, N. G., & Melloni, L. (2009). Age effects on attentional blink performance in meditation. Consciousness and Cognition, 18, 593–599. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2009.05.001.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Vohs, K. D., Baumeister, R. F., Schmeichel, B. J., Twenge, J. M., Nelson, N. M., et al. (2008). Making choices impairs subsequent self-control: A limited resource account of decision making, self-regulation, and active initiative. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94, 883–898. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.94.5.883.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: The PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 1063–1070. doi:10.1037//0022-3514.54.6.1063.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Willis, S. L., Tennstedt, S. L., Marsiske, M., Ball, K., Elias, J., et al. (2006). Long-term effects of cognitive training on everyday functional outcomes in older adults. American Medical Association, 296, 2805–2814. doi:10.1001/jama.296.23.2805.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Youmans, R. J. (2012). Turning people into Petri dishes! Using random assignment to create equivalent test groups. In B. P. Scott & M. Ward (Eds.), Teaching research methods in social sciences. New York: SAGE/Pine.

    Google Scholar 

  56. Zeidan, F., Johnson, S. K., Diamond, B. J., David, Z., & Goolkasian, P. (2010). Mindfulness meditation improves cognition. Evidence of brief mental training. Consciousness & Cognition, 19, 597–605. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2010.03.014.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Zimmerman, B. J. (1990). Self-regulated learning and academic achievement. Educational Psychologist, 25, 3–17. doi:10.1207/s15326985ep2501_2.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Zimmerman, B. J. (2000). Attaining self-regulation: A social cognitive perspective. In M. Boekaerts, P. R. Pintrich, & M. Zeidner (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation (pp. 13–39). San Diego: Academic Press. (0121098907)

  59. Zimmerman, B. J., Bandura, A., & Martinez-Pons, M. (1992). Self-motivation for academic attainment: The role of self-efficacy beliefs and personal goal-setting. American Educational Research Journal, 29, 663–676. doi:10.2307/1163261.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Zimmerman, B. J., & Schunk, D. H. (Eds.). (2001). Self- regulated learning and academic achievement: Theoretical perspectives (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  61. Zylowska, L., Ackerman, D. L., Yang, M. H., Futrell, J. L., Horton, N. L., et al. (2007). Mindfulness meditation training in adults and adolescents with ADHD a feasibility study. Journal of Attention Disorders, 11, 737–746. doi:10.1177/1087054707308502.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jared T. Ramsburg.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Ramsburg, J.T., Youmans, R.J. Meditation in the Higher-Education Classroom: Meditation Training Improves Student Knowledge Retention during Lectures. Mindfulness 5, 431–441 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-013-0199-5

Download citation

Keywords

  • Learning
  • Meditation
  • Cognitive functioning
  • Higher education
  • Academic performance