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A review of mindfulness and self-compassion in education
  • Stephen Holsenbeck
Stephen Holsenbeck
Northeastern University
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Introduction: The experience of the academic environment can be competitive, stressful, and at times overwhelming for students and faculty alike. Self-compassion (defined by \citep{neff_examining_2017} as including self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness) has been associated with general resourcefulness \citep{martin_examining_2019}, self-regulation \citep{dundas_does_2017}, and well-being \citep{gunnell_dont_2017} in university students, but mindfulness practices evoking self-compassion remain underutilized in academic contexts.  Methods: This meta-analysis evaluates three studies examining self-compassion as measured by the Self-Compassion Scale \citep{neff_examining_2017} as a primary or secondary outcome of mindfulness-based interventions conducted in educational contexts. The study seeks to establish associations between the characteristics of mindfulness-based interventions in educational contexts, namely contact time, individual time (outside of the group context), type of intervention (Mindfulness-based stress reduction or Self-compassion course) and their influence on the between-group (treatment-control) mean standardized differences of scores on the Self-compassion scale. Results: The three included studies show standardized mean difference effect sizes between treatment & control groups ranging from .57-.94. Total contact time had a nearly negligible though significant \(\beta=−0.0009,\ p\le.1\)correlation with self-compassion scores suggesting that shorter length courses may be equally effective as longer courses in influencing self-compassion outcomes. Intervention type, specifically interventions between 2 & 8 weeks modeled after the self-compassion training courses show a large significant effect \(\beta = 0.35,\ p\leq.1\) on self-compassion outcome measures.
Conclusion:  Two to eight-week mindfulness courses embedded within coursework can have a significant effect on self-compassion scores for student cohorts.