Exploring Intentions and Outcomes in a Contemplative Classroom: A Qualitative Study



Meditation, Intention, Contemplative Pedagogy


Contemplative practices are becoming increasingly present in college classrooms, yet structured studies of the processes and outcomes experienced by students are still quite limited. In this study, I explore change processes within a group of undergraduate students experiencing meditation for the first time as part of a 3-week course on Buddhist philosophy. The following is a qualitative analysis of pre- and post-course focus group interviews with students. The results indicate that intentions at the outset of the course play a key role in deciding how students subsequently approach and experience practice. This early trajectory affects their maintenance of practice as well as their personal development of positive characteristics commonly associated with practice (e.g., presence, acceptance, and meta-awareness). Contemplative educators are encouraged to draw their attention to how such processes might play out in their own classrooms as a means of maximizing the positive benefits of contemplative practice for their students.

Author Biography

Aaron John Godlaski, Centre College

Aaron Godlaski joined Centre’s faculty in 2012 as an assistant professor of psychology and behavioral neuroscience. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Kentucky, where he studied alcohol and human behavior. Following the completion of his dissertation, he interned at SUNY Upstate Medical University and Hospital in Syracuse, N.Y., specializing in clinical health psychology and outpatient psychotherapy.

Godlaski’s research interests include the effects of mindfulness meditation on cognitive and physiological processes, and the effects of alcohol on human behavior. He is also interested in pedagogical innovations associated with meditation and other contemplative practices, and how such practices can enrich the lives of students.


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