Can mindfulness improve your grades?

  • Friday, January 10, 2020

New study by Roehampton academic aims to capture students. perceptions of the impact of mindfulness on their academic performance.

Image - Can mindfulness improve your grades?

While there has been research into the educational impacts of mindfulness, studies so far have focused on its potential to support student wellbeing. However, up to now there’s been little research into whether and how mindfulness impacts academic achievement. Dr Jasmine Childs-Fegredo, of the Department of Psychology, along with colleagues from the University of Cambridge, UCL, Birkbeck and the University of London, aimed to find out.

The study followed on from a large quantitative study, conducted by the University of Cambridge, which suggested that practising mindfulness improved academic attainment. This study aimed to capture students’ perceptions of the impact of mindfulness on their academic performance. In other words, to find out how students felt mindfulness had affected their studies – if at all.

The study focused on a small group. Half the group were relatively high achievers, scoring 2:1s or firsts in their assessments, while half were relatively low achievers, scoring 2:2s and thirds. Of this group, most of the students felt that the impact of mindfulness was positive. The students said that mindfulness had increased their self-awareness and their emotional control, and that this had improved their ability to focus.

However, one student reported that their greater emotional awareness caused them to walk away from stress-causing activities – including studying – and that this had a negative impact on their academic performance, but a positive impact on overall wellbeing.

Taken together, the results suggests a mixed impact of mindfulness on academic performance, in line with previous studies.

Dr Childs-Fegredo said, ‘This is a timely study in the “wellbeing era” and may help universities who use mindfulness as part of their wellbeing services. I was previously at the university of Cambridge where a large control trial of mindfulness was carried out, which found that mindfulness has a positive impact on academic performance. This follow-up study has also found that mindfulness has an overall positive impact on academic performance, and wellbeing’.

The University of Roehampton is the most research-intensive modern university in the UK, with 100% of our psychology research rated as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ (Research Excellence Framework, 2014). We also provide a range of wellbeing services for all our students, including mindfulness sessions every Thursday.