“Learning How to See”: Faculty Members’ Use of Unnamed Contemplative Practices


  • Ameena Batada University of North Carolina Asheville
  • Keith Chichester University of Miami
  • Melissa J Himelein University of North Carolina Asheville
  • Richard Chess University of North Carolina Asheville


contemplative practices, teaching strategies, faculty perceptions


As contemplative pedagogy on higher education campuses grows, so does interest in supporting additional faculty in using contemplative practices. At our small, liberal arts teaching university in the southeast USA, our faculty contemplative learning circle has steadily widened and worked to integrate mindfulness and other practices into our campus activities. We became interested in how contemplative practices are already happening in our classrooms without being named as such, and if finding out about them might elucidate opportunities to support faculty in deepening and expanding current efforts. This paper presents the findings from an interview study with 35 faculty members not formally participating in faculty activities involving contemplative pedagogy. Faculty spontaneously mentioned some activities that may be considered contemplative in their descriptions of effective teaching strategies, such as class discussions, experiential activities, and journaling. Among a provided list of contemplative activities, the most frequently used were discussions/debates, journaling/reflective writing, and beholding, though the ways in which faculty implemented the activities varied. Faculty offered many examples of activities that could be considered contemplative or introspective, and the ways they used the activities differed by discipline. When asked directly, 18 participants reported that they used contemplative practices or pedagogy in some way, nine reported that they were uncertain about the definition and/or whether they used them, and eight responded that they do not use them. Many faculty members also indicated interest in learning more about how to incorporate contemplative practices in teaching, suggesting an opportunity for enhanced faculty development efforts.

Author Biographies

Ameena Batada, University of North Carolina Asheville

Ameena Batada is an associate professor of health and wellness at UNC Asheville. Ameena teaches and collaborates with community partners in the areas of health equity, community health promotion, health communication, and policy advocacy.  

Keith Chichester, University of Miami

Keith Chichester is a post-baccalaureate research associate in the psychology department at the University of Miami.

Melissa J Himelein, University of North Carolina Asheville

Melissa Himelein is a professor of psychology and the Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at UNC Asheville.

Richard Chess, University of North Carolina Asheville

Richard Chess is the author of four books of poetry, including his most recently published book, Love Nailed to the Doorpost. He is a regular contributor to "Good Letters," the blog hosted by IMAGE, a journal of Art, Faith, Mystery. He is the Chair of the Department of English at UNC Asheville.


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