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Teaching Mindfulness to Undergraduates: A Survey and Photovoice Study
Journal of Transformative Education
Format: Journal Article
Publication Year: 2019
Pages: 51 - 70
Source ID: shanti-sources-108331
Abstract: How do emerging adults experience mindfulness and compassion? The goals of this study were to (1) evaluate the effectiveness of a mindfulness curricular intervention and (2) examine how students interpreted their experience. We delivered a mindfulness curriculum to 24 college students who meditated twice a week for 7 weeks. Students completed a survey at the beginning and end of the course where they self-reported information about their mental health, compassion, and creativity. Results showed that, over the course of the semester, students demonstrated improvements in measures of creativity, self-compassion, compassion toward others, mental health, and emotional regulation. To gain a more nuanced understanding of students’ interpretations of and experiences with the course material, we used interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) to analyze student photovoice projects (wherein they collected and analyzed images to represent mindfulness concepts). Findings illustrate how students typically understood self-compassion as self-acceptance, self-reflection, or self-care and understood compassion toward others as active alleviation, familial affection/affinity, interdependence, and mortality. Triangulating survey and IPA results demonstrate how contemplative practices such as mindfulness can help students cope with stressors associated with emerging adulthood. Integrating mindfulness practices in higher education is important for students’ transformative learning and holistic development. Further, our research suggests that contemplative education can benefit from using mixed methods (e.g., surveys and photovoice) to help students understand mindfulness and its connections with personal outcomes (e.g., learning, creativity, and well-being).