Mindfulness and Social-Emotional Competencies: Proposing Connections Through a Review of the Research

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ObjectivesThe purpose of this study was to explore linkages between mindfulness-based practices (MBP) applied in schools and a social and emotional (SEL) framework using the five competency areas endorsed by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making). A qualitative exploration of linkages was conducted to identify ways the two might be integrated in schools and to stimulate transdisciplinary dialogue.MethodA literature review yielded 40 studies that met the criteria: (a) use of MBP, (b) study conducted in a school setting, (c) inclusion of a goal to promote mindfulness, and (d) at least one outcome variable relevant to at least one of the five SEL competency areas. After coding SEL-related constructs measured in the studies, we reached consensus for the SEL competency area under which each construct best fits and reviewed the extent to which constructs were measured across the five SEL competency areas.ResultsResults suggested a conceptual fit between MBP and a SEL framework. Each of the five competency areas varied in their representation of the effects of MBP on students. The competency area of self-management was represented in all studies reviewed. No studies mentioned the use of the five competency areas in a SEL framework to guide or classify outcome variables. Only eight studies measured mindfulness as a construct.ConclusionsFuture evaluations of MBP in schools should consider how outcomes fit within the context of a SEL framework to further understand the linkages between MBP and SEL.

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