Date of Completion


Embargo Period



mindfulness, mindfulness-based, intervention, student, school, academic engagement, alternative education, adolescent

Major Advisor

Dr. Sandra Chafouleas

Associate Advisor

Dr. Melissa Bray

Associate Advisor

Dr. Ravit Stein

Field of Study

Educational Psychology


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Low academic engagement is a common student-related problem faced by teachers. Internally-managed systems of change, such as self-management strategies, used in conjunction with existing behavioral frameworks may provide an efficient and effective way of addressing student engagement. Mindfulness has received increasing attention in the research literature over the past decade and has been shown to improve a variety of cognitive, behavioral, and physiological outcomes, especially with clinical populations. However, school-based mindfulness curricula are typically expensive, time-consuming, and require specialized training, resulting in barriers to implementation. There is a need for mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) that are replicable and easily integrated into school settings, as well as more experimental studies of mindfulness to support its use in schools. This study employed a multiple-baseline across subjects design to examine the impacts of a daily, audio-delivered, mindful breathing intervention on adolescents with emotional and behavioral difficulties in an alternative educational setting. The intervention was designed to promote self-management of student attention. It was unique, as it required little training and time from teacher implementers and was easily incorporated into the school day with minimal disruption to existing routines. The effects of the mindful breathing intervention on academic engagement were investigated, along with acceptability of the intervention from the perspectives of implementers and participants. Results of the study indicated that teachers and students perceived the intervention to be both feasible and acceptable. In addition, participants displayed increases in academic engagement as measured by both Direct Behavior Rating (DBR) and systematic direct observation (SDO) that were maintained at 6-week follow-up. Decreases in disruptive behavior were also observed. However, because the effects could not be replicated three times due to issues with attrition, changes cannot be directly attributed to the mindful breathing intervention. Implications of the findings, as well as future directions for research, are discussed.