Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Fall 2012

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Joanna Arch

Abstract

Objective: While many studies have shown the positive effects of extended mindfulness interventions on anxiety reduction in several different populations, none had yet examined the effects of a brief mindfulness intervention on math test anxiety and performance in a high school population. This study examines the effects of anxiety reduction through a brief mindfulness intervention on improving exam scores in high school AP Statistics and Algebra One classes. Method: Participants in the Mindfulness intervention condition (n = 53) did a brief (9 minute) guided mindfulness meditation directly before math exams were administered, as well as answering several questionnaires before and after each testing session. Control participants (n = 17) answered similar questionnaires to the mindfulness group before exams. Non-participant controls (n = 54) did not participate in any aspect of the study other than contributing grades to the final analysis. Results: Participants in the Mindfulness Intervention showed significant within-group reductions in anxiety from before to after the meditation, t(52) = 7.83, p < .01. Mindfulness participants also showed within-group improvements in math scores from before to after the intervention, p < .03, whereas the Control groups did not: between group differences reached trend status, p = .08. Conclusion: We conclude from this study that a brief mindfulness intervention significantly reduced math test anxiety in a high school population, with some effects on improving exam scores. Further research is needed to more definitively assess the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation on increasing math exam scores in a larger sample.

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