Abstract: A Multilevel School-Based Mindfulness Program Evaluation (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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80P A Multilevel School-Based Mindfulness Program Evaluation

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Toby Mills, MSW, Research Assistant and LCSW Supervisor, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO
Aaron Thompson, PhD, Professor, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO
Background and Purpose:

There is an increase in reported stress and stress-related behavioral health problems, especially among young people. Many young people do not seek care to adequately diagnose and treat their behavioral health problems, warranting the need for effective school-based interventions. Mindfulness Based Interventions (MBIs) demonstrate a growing body of research to suggest positive effects on common youth risk factors. Thus, the current study evaluated the program of a multi-level elementary school based MBI utilizing the following research aims.

  • To determine if audio-video equipment and physical movement would enhance student engagement to the school’s pre-existing mindfulness program.
  • To explore program favorability and to understand the impact of the Mindful Living intervention with a targeted number of students.


Research Aim 1: Pre and post observational data were collected from each classroom before and after implementing a video-enhanced mindfulness routine using the Classroom Atmosphere Scale (CAS) and a researcher-created Mindfulness Routine Checklist (MRC). Data was analyzed using a paired sample t-test.

Research Aim 2: 22 fourth graders from were enrolled and participated in the Mindful Living curriculum. Program fidelity was measured each session via checklist and participant satisfaction was measured with a posttest-only participant satisfaction survey. Mean scores were calculated for both. Data for program effectiveness was collected with both student-reported pre and posttests using the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), Child and Adolescent Mindfulness Measure (CAMM) and Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and teacher-reported pre and posttests, Child and Adolescent Disruptive Behavioral Index (CADBI). Data was analyzed using a paired sample t-test.


Research Aim 1: While the CAS detected some negative changes in behaviors (ES=.642), the MRC yielded significant, positive results with a large effect size (ES=-1.042) indicating that there are benefits to the video-enhanced morning mindfulness routine in terms of participation, engagement, perceived ease of use.

Research Aim 2:

  • Participant Satisfaction- Students reported a generally high level of program satisfaction with the Mindful Living (satisfaction ratings ranged from 85-97% with an overall average rating of 92%).
  • Fidelity- Students demonstrated high levels of participation and engagement (average 94%) and facilitators were faithful to treatment procedures as outlined in the curriculum. (average 98.5%).
  • Student Outcomes- Students demonstrated meaningful change with small effect sizes in emotional symptoms (d=.225), positive peer relations (d=.305) within student-reported data and student behavior towards peers (d=.212) within the teacher-reported data. No effect sizes were detected within the domains of perceived stress, conduct problems, hyperactivity, prosocial behavior or state-mindfulness for student-reported data or with behavior towards adults, activity level for teacher-reported data.

Conclusions and Implications:

Research Aim 1: Observational data suggests that the school would benefit from continuing a mindfulness routine enriched with physical movement and visual aids. More variety in the video routines is advised.

Research Aim 2: With strong program fidelity, students participated in the Mindful Living program and reported high levels of program satisfaction. Further, preliminary findings show promise towards favorable student outcomes of emotional symptoms and positive peer relations. Further studies are required to make conclusions about the other assessed domains.