Graduate Program

School Psychology

Degree Name

Specialist in School Psychology

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Ronan S. Bernas


Mindfulness is defined as a process of purposefully paying attention to one’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the present moment while taking a nonjudgmental stance on them (Kabat-Zinn, 2009). While originally an Eastern approach technique in spirituality and philosophy, mindfulness has been incorporated into or served as a basis for numerous psychological therapies and treatments (Segal, Williams, & Teasdale, 2002; Kabat-Zinn, 1982, 1990). Research into mindfulness has expanded to the context of learning, where studies have demonstrated that facilitative states of mindfulness can improve the abilities of students to focus, attend, and recall information in an educational setting (Langer, 1997).

The effects of mindfulness are well documented, however the mechanisms by which it works remain somewhat unclear. Shapiro, Carlson, Aston, and Freedman (2006) proposed a framework in which mindfulness acts upon psychological change through different mechanisms. They suggested that these mechanisms include self-regulation of attention, values clarification, cognitive, behavioral, and emotional flexibility, and exposure. Carmody, Baer, Lykens, and Olendzki (2009) tested this model and found some initial support for it.

The purpose of the present study was to test the framework proposed by Shapiro et al. (2006) with an academic outcome. One hundred two high school students responded to a battery of assessment instruments measuring mindfulness, attention control, emotion regulation, and cognitive flexibility. Results were then compared to student GPA and PLAN assessment scores. Mindfulness demonstrated a significant correlation with attention control, however did not show correlations with emotion regulation or cognitive flexibility. Attention control, emotion regulation, and cognitive flexibility showed no relationship with either measure of achievement. Due to the lack of connections, the model was unable to be tested for mediation. Results suggest a more nuanced relationship between mindfulness and academic outcomes.