Date of Award
Doctor of Education
School of Education
May Anne Celenza
Many students enter colleges having to take non-credit-bearing courses, and many do not pass these courses due to numerous factors, including anxiety and stress, especially in mathematics. Current literature shows how mindfulness-based interventions (Bamber, & Schneider, 2016; Dvořáková et al., 2017; Hidman, 2013; Miller et al. 2019; Regehr et al., 2013) and a growth mindset (Blackwell et al., 2007; Boaler et al., 2018; May, 2009) have a positive effect on student stress, anxiety, and academic success. This mixed-method study focused on the unSTUCK strategy’s impact, a mindfulness-inspired tool, on foundation math students. The unSTUCK strategy is a mindfulness-inspired program. The study included two weekly discussions, one focused on mathematical mindset videos and the other centered on the unSTUCK strategy. The unSTUCK strategy included 1-5 minutes of a mindfulness-inspired practice followed by a brief moment of reflection on thoughts and working through different perspectives that may help change mindsets surrounding emotional moments in the students’ lives. This mixed-methods study aims to implement the unSTUCK strategy in the Elementary Algebra foundational mathematics courses at a local community college to increase student academic success and retention, ergo, improving graduation rates and overall student well-being. Few studies combine mindfulness and its effects on reducing student anxiety in conjunction with changing students’ math perspective, mindset, and their combined effect on students’ academic success. This mixed-method study focused on: Does changing a student’s mindset and decreasing anxiety through a mindfully-inspired tool, help students become more successful in their foundational math courses? This study aspires to fill the gap in research to determine if a mindfulness-inspired intervention will affect students’ anxiety and mindset, and subsequently increase the academic success of foundational math students, and in turn, increase passing rates and student retention.
The results from this study revealed that over 90% of the students found the unSTUCK strategy beneficial and more than 66% transferred the tools they learned with the strategy to other areas of their lives. Additionally, the findings showed a 4% decrease in general anxiety levels, a 7% increase in pass rates, an 11% increase in final exam grades, and a 4% increase in final course grades as compared to previous years’ data. However, no conclusions could be drawn surrounding the unSTUCK strategy and its effect on students’ mindset.
Birnbaum, Edite and Birnbaum, Edith L., "Mindfulness & Mindset: The Winning Combination? The Exploration of The unSTUCK Method® on Developmental Math Students: A Mixed Methods Study" (2021). Graduate Theses & Dissertations. 33.
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