Educators and policymakers are always on the look-out for new techniques to enhance academic acumen.
A new study reports on the potential benefits of a specific kind of meditation called the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique to improve scores among low-performing students.
The study was conducted at a California public middle school with 189 students who were below proficiency level in English and math. Change in academic achievement was evaluated using the California Standards Tests.
“The results of the study provide support to a recent trend in education focusing on student mind/body development for academic achievement,” said Dr. Ronald Zigler, study co-author.
“We need more programs of this kind implemented into our nation’s public schools, with further evaluation efforts.”
Students who practiced the Transcendental Meditation program showed significant increases in math and English scale scores and performance level scores over a one-year period.
A significant portion of the meditating students — 41 percent — showed a gain of at least one performance level in math, compared to 15 percent of the non-meditating students in the control group.
Among the students with the lowest levels of academic performance, “below basic” and “far below basic,” the meditating students showed a significant improvement in overall academic achievement compared to students in the control group, which showed only a slight gain.
“This initial research, showing the benefits of the Quiet Time/Transcendental Meditation program on academic achievement, holds promise for public education,” according to Sanford Nidich, Ed.D., lead author and professor of education at Maharishi University of Management.
Maharishi University of Management was founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who also founded Transcendental Meditation. Maharishi University promotes “self-exploration, higher consciousness, spirituality, and inner peace through the Transcendental Meditation technique,” according to its website.
“The findings suggest that there is an easy-to-implement, value-added educational program which can help low-performing minority students begin to close the achievement gap,” said Nidich.
The middle school level is of particular concern to educators because of low academic performance nationally. Sixty-six percent of eighth-grade students are below proficiency level in math and 68 percent are below proficiency level in reading, based on 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress data.
Faculty surveyed as part of the project reported the Quiet Time/Transcendental Meditation program to be a valuable addition to the school.
They reported the students to be calmer, happier, and less hyperactive, with an increased ability to focus on schoolwork. In terms of the school environment, faculty reported less student fights, less abusive language, and an overall more relaxed and calm atmosphere since implementation of the program.
The study results are reported in the journal Education.