Critical Analysis Of The Article “Effects Of A Mindfulness Meditation Course On Learning And Cognitive Performance Among University Students In Taiwan”
In Effects of a Mindfulness Meditation Course on Learning and Cognitive Performance among University Students in Taiwan (2015), the scientists analyze the impact of mindfulness meditation on the brains of Taiwanese university students. They only predicted that mindfulness meditation would decrease stress levels, but did not offer a hypothesis for the overall research question. However, it can be inferred that the researchers believed that there is a correlation between mindfulness meditation and learning and cognitive performance.
After getting IRB approval for their 18-week study, the researchers traveled to a private university in south Taiwan, where freshman students were required to take a one-semester mindfulness meditation course that was based on Buddhism. This class met for 50 minutes per week, having students learn and engage in a variety of practices to achieve the mindfulness state, and write a diary about their experiences. In addition, 152 students who were enrolled in the class for the first school semester were compared with 130 students who were in the physical education classes. Known as the quasi-experimental pre/protest design, students were asked to complete the College Learning Effectiveness Inventory (CLEI) and a series of computer cognitive tasks in the beginning and end of the study. The CLEI, which was reliable based on Cronbach alpha values, was a series of questions that measured students’ attitude toward learning. It consisted of nine subscales pertaining to emotional satisfaction, time management, feelings of achievement, stress, focus on academics, confidence levels, extracurricular activities, and social life with friends. Similarly, students were asked to complete the digital vigilance and choice reaction time task to determine attention levels and the spatial working memory and memory scanning task to measure memory, all four of which involved reaction time and accuracy in clicking buttons.
Furthermore, for each of the subscales in the CLEI, and the accuracy and reaction time for the computer tasks, the ANCOVA compared the results in the experimental and control group. A chi-square test was used to reveal which demographical characteristics could potentially alter the results, so that these variables could be accounted for in the ANCOVA. Finally, the pro-test values were subtracted from the pre-test values, in order to acknowledge whether or not there was statistical significance. The chi-square tests showed that gender, meditation experience, and college major were additional variables that impacted the results of the study. The ANCOVA reported that results for each of the CLEI subscales did not differ much between the two groups, meaning that the researchers’ analysis was rejected. They suggest that this is due to the lack of interest in meditation amongst the students, and perhaps a general trend where stress levels will decrease in all students, as they spend more time in their university. Nonetheless, there was an overall p-value of 0. 022 for the CLEI.
Moreover, the mindfulness group had a better outcome than the control group in the accuracy (P=0. 048) and the reaction time of the digital vigilance task (P=0. 004), and the accuracy of the choice reaction time (P=0. 004) and spatial working memory task (P=0. 048). The researchers believe that this is because mindfulness meditation allowed for emotional balance, a better mood, and decrease in mind wandering. All in all, the results supported that mindfulness meditation does improve learning and cognitive performance because all p-values less than 0. 05 is statistically significant.
Overall, this study is extremely relevant to my quality-of-life topic because I am planning to test the same variables. However, there were many limitations in this study, some of which the scientists mention in their conclusion. They include having a group of students who were not motivated in meditation, since the course was mandatory, technical issues in administering the computer tasks, other variables like sleep that were not measured. In addition, data regarding previous meditation experience had “yes” and “no” answers, as opposed to having numerical quantities. On top of that, the authors of the study did not include information under the correct categories, as some background information was included in the discussion of the article. Therefore, I do not recommend this article because of its disorganization and innumerable limitations that undermined the reliability of the study.
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