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The Effects of a Mindfulness and Biofeedback Program on the On- and Off-Task Behaviors of Students with Emotional Behavioral Disorders

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Abstract

Research suggests that mind-body techniques are useful for enhancing self-regulatory behaviors, including attention and emotional regulation. The majority of research in this area focuses on adult behavior. However, there has been a growing interest in using mindfulness techniques with children and more recently, in the school setting. Students identified as emotionally disturbed (ED) could potentially benefit from such interventions. In this study, a 12-week mind-body curriculum utilizing mindfulness and game-based biofeedback techniques was implemented in special education emotional support classrooms with elementary and middle school students. A quasi-experimental design was implemented to examine the effects of the mindfulness and biofeedback program on students’ on-task and off-task behaviors in the classroom. Results indicated significant decreases in overall off-task behaviors and improvements that approached significance in on-task behaviors for the participants in the treatment group (n = 14) compared to the participants in the control group (n = 17). The potential benefits of using a mindfulness and biofeedback program with ED students are discussed as well as limitations of the study, implications for practice, and recommendations for future research.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Dr. Richard Erdlen, Dr. Nicholas Kenien, Tanya Merchant, Karen Webster, Val Kater, Joshua Schmalzer, Stephanie Schmazler, and John Burton for their assistance with this project.

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Correspondence to Karena S. Rush.

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This study was partially funded by a Millersville University Faculty Grant.

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All procedures performed in the studies 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.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

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Rush, K.S., Golden, M., Mortenson, B.P. et al. The Effects of a Mindfulness and Biofeedback Program on the On- and Off-Task Behaviors of Students with Emotional Behavioral Disorders. Contemp School Psychol 21, 347–357 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40688-017-0140-3

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