Impact of student mindfulness facets on engineering education outcomes: An initial exploration

Tomas Estrada, Elizabethtown College
Elizabeth D. Dalton, Elizabethtown College


Mindfulness-based practices and interventions are increasingly recognized for their potential to positively affect college students' psychological health, wellbeing, and academic success. While research on mindfulness in the context of engineering education is beginning to emerge, many concepts remain poorly understood, including the association between engineering students' mindfulness and academic functioning. Additionally, prior research has not specifically considered and tested interventions designed to increase the trait mindfulness of engineering students. In this paper, we examine these questions through two studies: the first, a survey study examining the association between trait mindfulness and relevant educational outcomes in 73 engineering and non-engineering students; the second, a pilot four-week mindfulness-based stress reduction intervention for 21 engineering students. Results indicated that engineering students' grades on a targeted task relevant to ABET outcomes were significantly, positively related to their self-reported preference for challenging information and experiences (r = .41, p < .01) and their ability to be mindfully nonreactive (r = .38, p = .01). Compared to non-engineering students, engineering students reported a significantly higher level of nonjudgmental mindful awareness (t (69) = 3.02, p <.01) and openness to new experiences (t (70) = 3.42, p < .01). Participating in a four-week mindfulness intervention significantly increased engineering students' trait mindfulness (t(21) = -2.90, p = .01), engagement in mindfulness outside of sessions (t(20) = -4.36, p <.01), and intellectual curiosity and exploration (t(21) = -.48, p <.01). These results lend support to the feasibility of mindfulness-based interventions in engineering education and advance previous literature. The discussion provides recommendations for the implementation of mindfulness-based interventions in engineering education based on these results and qualitative student feedback, as well as recommendation for continued research in this domain.