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Meditating Before Class May Lead to Better Grades, Study

Meditating before class may lead to better grades, according to a new experimental study.

| April 15, 2013 | Health

AsianScientist (Apr. 15, 2013) - Meditating before class may lead to better grades, according to a new experimental study by Robert Youmans, an assistant professor of psychology at George Mason University, and University of Illinois doctoral student and practising Buddhist, Jared Ramsburg.

The pair of researchers conducted three classroom experiments at a California university to see if meditation might help students focus better and retain information. The students, who were randomly selected for this experiment, were told to follow basic meditation instructions before a lecture.

Results from the study, published in the journal Mindfulness, showed that students who meditated before the lecture scored better on a quiz that followed than students who did not meditate. In one experiment, the meditation even predicted which students passed and which students failed the quiz.

Interestingly, the effect of the meditation was stronger in classes where more freshmen students were enrolled, showing that meditation might have a bigger effect on freshmen students. The researchers speculate that freshmen courses likely contain the types of students who stand to benefit the most from meditation training.

"One difficulty for researchers who study meditation is that the supposed benefits of meditation do not always replicate across different studies or populations, and so we have been trying to figure out why. This data from this study suggest that meditation may help students who might have trouble paying attention or focusing. Sadly, freshmen classes probably contain more of these types of students than senior courses because student populations who have difficulty self-regulating are also more likely to leave the university," says Youmans.

Youmans believes that self-reflection might therefore have an important place in freshmen seminars or institutions with high attrition rates. Their study showed a significant improvement with only six minutes of written meditation exercises — and the researchers believe with more extensive training and coaching that the results could improve.

He adds that, in theory, other forms of active self-reflection such as prayer, taking long walks or even just taking the time to mindfully plan out your day in the morning could have some of the same positive effects as meditation.

"Personally, I have found meditation to be helpful for mental clarity, focus and self-discipline," says Ramsburg. "I think that if mindfulness can improve mental clarity, focus and self-discipline, then it might be useful in a variety of settings and for a variety of goals."

The article can be found at: Ramsburg JT et al. (2013) Meditation in the Higher-Education Classroom: Meditation Training Improves Student Knowledge Retention during Lectures.


Source: GMU; Photo: thekellyscope/Flickr/CC.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.


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