Mindfulness in Schools: Evidence on the Impacts of School-based Mindfulness Programs on Student Outcomes in P-12 Educational Settings

Robert Roeser, Bennett Pierce Professor of Caring and Compassion and Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, Penn State

Brian Galla, Associate Professor of Applied Developmental Psychology, University of Pittsburgh

Rebecca Baelen, Visiting Lecturer, Princeton University

Executive Summary

The number of school-based mindfulness programs (SBMPs) for students has been increasing over the last fifteen years. They’ve been developed for students from prekindergarten through high school (P–12 settings). While the reach of SBMPs is substantial, their introduction has outpaced research on their effectiveness across diverse sociocultural contexts and school environments, and with students of different ages and backgrounds.

A look at studies conducted between 2000 and 2019 showed that SBMPs improve students’ mindfulness and self-regulation skills. Further, there is promising evidence that these programs reduce students’ feelings of anxiety and depression, support their physical health, and assist them in engaging in healthy relationships with others. However, there is little consistent evidence at this time that SBMPs reduce students’ anger and aggression or improve their well-being, and further study is needed to adequately assess program impacts on students’ school behavior and performance. In the coming years, more scientific research on SBMPs is needed to determine: which kinds of practices and program elements work best, what outcomes they influence, and which students are impacted the most.

Recommendations for practitioners considering the use of SBMPs are offered.

NOTE: this brief was revised in July 2022 to include three (3) supplementary tables and updates to copyright and related information.

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