A Qualitative Evaluation of Student Learning and Skills Use in a School-Based Mindfulness and Yoga Program
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Previous studies on school-based mindfulness and yoga programs have focused primarily on quantitative measurement of program outcomes. This study used qualitative data to investigate program content and skills that students remembered and applied in their daily lives. Data were gathered following a 16-week mindfulness and yoga intervention delivered at three urban schools by a community non-profit organization. We conducted focus groups and interviews with nine classroom teachers who did not participate in the program and held six focus groups with 22 fifth and sixth grade program participants. This study addresses two primary research questions: (1) What skills did students learn, retain, and utilize outside the program? and (2) What changes did classroom teachers expect and observe among program recipients? Four major themes related to skill learning and application emerged as follows: (1) youths retained and utilized program skills involving breath work and poses; (2) knowledge about health benefits of these techniques promoted self-utilization and sharing of skills; (3) youths developed keener emotional appraisal that, coupled with new and improved emotional regulation skills, helped de-escalate negative emotions, promote calm, and reduce stress; and (4) youths and teachers reported realistic and optimistic expectations for future impact of acquired program skills. We discuss implications of these findings for guiding future research and practice.
KeywordsMindfulness Yoga Skills School-based Youth Qualitative
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