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K-State Today

May 7, 2018

Martinez publishes article evaluating effect of mindfulness in middle schoolers with discipline referrals

By Patrice L. Scott

College of Education assistant professor Tonnie Martinez recently published an article in the Research in Middle Level Education Journal detailing the results of a six-month pilot study using mindfulness to reduce office referrals due to classroom disruptions.  

The journal article, co-authored with graduate student Yuanyuan Zhao, details the study's methods, procedures and data. In all, 20 students participated in the 20-week study: half were in the control group and continued being sent to the office for behavioral redirection; the other half — treatment group — received mindfulness training three minutes a week using a MUSE headband. The brain-sensing headband uses EEG sensors to detect brain activity in users as they meditate. 

The initial data revealed only one student in the treatment group had the same number of referrals, all of the others decreased while one student's referrals plummeted from 19 in the previous semester to zero during the treatment period. Incidents for behavioral redirection for the 10 students in the control group remained at the same rate or  increased during the research period. Every single student in the treatment group increased their ability to focus. 

Martinez is excited about the results and is hoping to receive funding for a full-scale research project to determine validity. 

"Students carry exceptional amounts of stress with them to school, and conversations with frustrated teachers and administrators led me to consider new ways of impacting office referrals and ultimately student success," Martinez said. "This pilot study clearly demonstrated the Muse headset as a promising tool in an educational setting that is both nonmedical and noninvasive."

For more information, please contact Martinez at tonnie@k-state.edu