The "Paws b" Mindfulness Curriculum and its Relation to Prosocial Behaviour in the Classroom
: A Mixed Methods Project

  • Katie Crompton

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

School-based mindfulness programmes (SBMP)s are becoming more widely used in schools. There is evidence to suggest mindfulness reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety and increases attention and metacognition in children. More recently, research has considered the interpersonal effects of SBMPs, including how mindfulness affects prosocial behaviours. One of the theoretical frameworks which explain the relationship between mindfulness and prosocial behaviour is an increase in empathy through the practice of mindfulness, leading to increases in prosocial behaviour. To date, there is little research investigating the effects of mindfulness on prosocial behaviour in primary school aged children, in the United Kingdom (UK). Most of the existing literature utilises quantitative studies, lacking the use of a mixed methods approach to provide a sense of completeness to the findings. The overall aim of this thesis was to better understand; a) the effects of mindfulness on prosocial behaviour; b) the children’s perspectives on mindfulness and how it relates to prosocial behaviour and; c) the factors which shape the experience of researching and delivering a mindfulness programme to children in school.
Therefore, a mixed methodology was adopted, using a convergent design, to investigate an SBMP called Paws b (developed by the Mindfulness in Schools Project), and its relation to prosocial behaviour in seven- to 10-year-old children. The Paws b curriculum is a 12-lesson

programme which is delivered in whole class settings by a trained Paws b teacher. The project consisted of a randomised control trial (RCT) with 133 children across two primary schools, a focus group study with 15 children from these schools and the mindfulness teacher’s autoethnography, (who is also the researcher). Following the SBMP, children were rated as more prosocial by teachers and more helpful by peers compared to those who had received teaching as usual. There were also increases in numbers of reciprocal relationships following the programme, compared to the control group. In the focus groups, children reported that mindfulness was instrumental, particularly for self-regulation, and that it could lead to long-term positive changes in behaviour. The autoethnographic study provided a background to these findings highlighting the challenges of teaching mindfulness as an external teacher and factors which may have influenced the overall impact of the programme. This project has theoretical implications regarding how mindfulness may affect prosocial behaviour and practical implications regarding its implementation and the way in which it is measured in future studies.
Date of Award20 Jun 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorEszter Somogyi (Supervisor), Alessandra Fasulo (Supervisor) & Daphne Kaklamanou (Supervisor)

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