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Introducing Contemplative Pedagogy to the Classroom: Implementation, Experience and Effects on Concentration
2014-12-05, Glanville, Graham, Iwashima, Ricardo, Becker, Brett A.
While there is no single theory or praxis of contemplative pedagogy (Coburn, 2011), there is a wide spectrum of Mindfulness Meditation Practices (MMPs) being used in the classroom at a growing number of institutions. Many of these are aimed outcomes such as reducing stress, reflection (including self-reflection), expressing empathy, appreciating diversity and reducing absenteeism. Some of these practices also hold promise to possibly improve cognition, concentration and memory capabilities. This paper explores the experience of implementing a one-pointedness MMP in the classroom at an Irish higher education institution. The focus is on simplicity of implementation, minimal disruption, student engagement with the practice and any positive effects this may bring to the concentration/attention abilities of students. Specifically, a one-pointedness meditation is practiced by students at the outset of each lecture in a specified module. At the end of the lecture period, students are given a form of Wilkins¿ counting test, a measure of sustained focused concentration. Results are then compared to the performance of the same cohort in another module with no one-pointedness exercise, serving as control. Results show a small and borderline statistically-significant increase in the concentration abilities of students in the module that includes the one-pointedness meditation. Students also participated in a questionnaire and a discussion group, reflecting on their experience with the practice, and their opinions on introducing MMPs into their learning. Overall the student experience was much more positive than the authors had envisioned, even hoped for. At a minimum the results of this paper can inform educators looking to introduce simple contemplative pedagogy practices in the classroom, hopefully making their first attempts more fruitful.