Academics are exploring what the concepts of mindfulness and resilience mean to students, through research being conducted at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland.

The project is focusing on mindfulness in the classroom and how it can be used to increase the resilience of students across the university.

The initiative follows the signing of a Student Mental Health Agreement last year.

Informing intervention approaches

The project began with first-year students from the School of Health Sciences answering a questionnaire on mindfulness, resilience and wellbeing.

From these answers, the highest and lowest scorers from each course were invited to take part in a series of focus group sessions, which start this month. These sessions will explore what mindfulness and resilience means to them, as first year students adjusting to higher education life.

The results from the research will be used to create an intervention, helping students to manage attention focus when learning in the classroom context. Lecturers will help students through the use of a range of strategies such as active listening, silence and breathing.

The work is the brainchild of Neil Buchanan, lecturer in Applied Sport and Exercise Science at the School of Health Sciences.

Neil regularly practices mindfulness as part of his teaching sessions, as well as in his personal life, and has completed further mindfulness training with NHS Grampian.

Speaking on its effectiveness, he said: “Mindfulness has a positive impact on all aspects of a person’s life." 

"Within an academic setting, the practice of mindfulness is shown to positively enhance levels of concentration and be correlated with academic confidence. It is hoped the practice of mindfulness can further permeate outside the classroom into other areas of life, to help facilitate desirable thoughts and emotions."

"RGU has a longstanding commitment to developing the workforce of tomorrow and improving our students’ employability, and it is also important that we do what we can to ensure that their wellbeing is looked after."Resilience is at the heart of the government's plans for new mental health lessons set to enter the national curriculum south of the border in 2020.