An Evaluation of a Mindfulness Programme in a Primary School

Calcutt, Jane (2021). An Evaluation of a Mindfulness Programme in a Primary School. EdD thesis The Open University.

Abstract

This study seeks to evaluate mindfulness in a primary school through investigating pupil and adult opinions of a six-hour, whole class programme. Positioned as democratic evaluation, it was underpinned by a social justice framework using case study methods. Evaluation questions were formulated after a detailed review of the literature, the core question being ‛To what extent can the programme be deemed as successful, particularly taking into account the views of participants?′

I taught the programme to a Year 3 class with up to three teaching assistants as non-participant observers. Methods to establish observer perceptions included pre- and post-programme interviews moving to the construction and amendment of personal concept maps. As the mindfulness facilitator I kept a diary with personal views on each lesson and weekly responses from observers. Pupil perceptions were gathered through focus group discussions following each lesson. Audio recordings were transcribed and analysed thematically along with adult interviews, concept maps and diary extracts. Findings were validated through discussion with participants.

Themes arising indicated that lessons were both enjoyable and accessible, to a considerable extent, for all pupils and the programme received a high degree of confirmation. Deeper concepts were illuminated such as the fusion of mindfulness and social-emotional learning to enhance learning. The impact of facilitator beliefs was also explored in relation to promoting social justice principles. Findings are discussed relative to roles for mindfulness teaching and practice within primary schools. Adaptations are proposed, for both school and the Paws b programme, to increase effectiveness and principled application within and beyond the classroom. Future directions for research are then outlined to include, for instance, the development of qualitative investigations of mindfulness within primary school and greater opportunities for participant evaluations in new programme development.

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