Effects of meditation on academic performance
Last registered on May 14, 2019

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Effects of meditation on academic performance
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0004197
Initial registration date
May 10, 2019
Last updated
May 14, 2019 12:03 AM EDT
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
WZB Berlin Social Science Center
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Cologne
PI Affiliation
University of Zurich
Additional Trial Information
Status
In development
Start date
2019-05-15
End date
2021-12-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
We investigate whether mindfulness meditation may improve academic performance. Among subjects at a university who indicated that they are interested in participating in a meditation course it is randomly determined who gets a place in the course and who does not. The course consists of eight weekly group sessions with an experienced meditation teacher and daily individual exercises. Pre and post intervention grade information from the university’s administrative records will be used to investigate whether the intervention improves academic performance. Pre and post intervention questionnaires allow us to additionally investigate channels (stress, mindfulness, mental health, cognitive and non-cognitive skills, study behavior, and health behavior) through which the intervention may affect grades.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Cassar, Lea, Mira Fischer and Vanessa Valero. 2019. "Effects of meditation on academic performance." AEA RCT Registry. May 14. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/4197/history/46532
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Subjects in the treatment group participate in a meditation course based on the well-known “mindfulness-based stress reduction” (MBSR) program. The course consists of eight weekly group sessions with an experienced meditation teacher and individual exercises three times a day with audios pre-recorded by the meditation teacher. The sessions take place on the university campus in the afternoon and will have 17 participants each.
Intervention Start Date
2019-05-15
Intervention End Date
2019-07-12
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Subjects’ grades from exams written in the end of the summer semester
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Subjects write different exams in the end of the summer semester. They are randomized into the treatment and control group such that, where possible, for every student in the treatment group who is writing an exam, there is a student in the control group writing the same exam. In our analysis, we will consider all of subjects’ grades from exams for which there is at least one subject in the treatment group and one subject in the control group.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
We investigate the potential channels through which the meditation course may influence grades. These are:
- stress
- mindfulness
- mental health (anxiety and depression)
- cognitive skills (self-control and attention/focus)
- non-cognitive skills (conscientiousness and neuroticism)
- study behavior
- health behavior
- meditation practice

Furthermore, we plan to investigate the long-term effect of the meditation intervention on academic performance using subjects’ grades from the subsequent winter semester, if available.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
We focus on variables that we know from the literature (i) are influenced by meditation, and (ii) are relevant for academic outcomes.

Scales:
- stress: Perceived Stress Scale (PSS)
- mindfulness: mindfulness scale (shortened) of the German Socio-Economic Panel Study Innovation Sample ( SOEP-IS)
- anxiety: Generalized Anxiety Disorder - 7 (GAD-7)
- depression: Patient Health Questionnaire - 9 (PHQ-9)
- self-control: Brief Self-Control Scale
- attention/focus: Stroop task (incentivized)
- conscientiousness and neuroticism: Big Five Inventory
- study behavior: questions related to study behavior
- health behavior: questions related to health behavior
- meditation practice: questions related to frequency and quality of meditation practice
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
A free meditation course was advertised to students, who could apply to the course by registering and filling in a questionnaire on a website. They knew that the number of places was limited and consented to use of their grade information.
Students are randomly assigned to the treatment or the control group. The treatment group participates in eight weekly meditation sessions with a teacher and completes daily individual exercises. After the course, treatment and control subjects are paid to fill in a second online questionnaire and we access their pre and post intervention grade information from the university’s administrative records.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Students are randomized into treatment and control group at the individual level. Students who only write exams that few other students write are randomized stratified along these exams, such that, where possible, for every student in the treatment group who is writing an exam, there is a student in the control group writing the same exam.
Randomization Unit
Randomization is performed at the individual level.
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
224
Sample size: planned number of observations
224
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
102 observations in the treatment group and 122 observations in the control group
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
none
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Institutional Review Board of the University of Cologne
IRB Approval Date
2019-04-02
IRB Approval Number
N/A