The Science of Mindfulness-Based Interventions and Learning: A Review for Educators

Ruben Eero Laukkonen, J. Leggett, Regan Gallagher, H Biddel, A Mrazek, Heleen Slagter, M Mrazek

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Is there sufficient evidence that mindfulness training is ready to be implemented in schools? Going beyond the relatively comprehensive literature on mindfulness and mental health, here we investigate whether mindfulness can help students learn. We begin by drawing on laboratory studies in experimental psychology and cognitive science, and then reflect on research conducted in schools and other applied contexts. We also briefly discuss key insights from the neuroscience of mindfulness, and compare mindfulness to other well- known learning interventions. Our review suggests that mindfulness interventions have the potential to make students more focused, to help them regulate their emotions, to be more flexible and creative, and to change their brains in a way that encourages greater conscious control of their thoughts, feelings, and actions. These findings indicate that mindfulness may improve cognitive abilities that are key to learning outcomes, and may have a complementary relationship with other interventions such as retrieval practice. Field experiments also show promise, and are indicative of high feasibility, low risk, and suggest generalisability across diverse groups, ages, genders, and cultures. However, most studies currently lack standardisation, active control groups, and more experiments are needed that explicitly focus on academic performance in schools. We conclude by providing practical advice and best practices for the implementation of mindfulness training in schools, and highlight the promising future of digital mindfulness-based interventions as a scalable and affordable way to implement mindfulness in educational contexts. This review will be of value to those who are interested in the application of mindfulness to learning contexts, but also researchers and others who wish to know the current state of scientific evidence on mindfulness-based interventions and their impact on learning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-29
Number of pages29
JournalMindRxiv Papers
Issue numberFeb. 3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2020


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