Mindful leader development of undergraduate students
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This case study examined a six-week mindfulness intervention in a higher education leadership course. Higher education has a critical role to play in preparing students to navigate this worldwide terrain with success by nurturing self-awareness (foundational for leader development) that past clinical research has shown can help students deal more effectively with challenges, and achieve academic and career success. Since the impact of contemplative approaches on undergraduate students was sparse, this intrinsic single-case study aimed to understand the mindfulness experiences of thirteen undergraduate students enrolled in a higher education leadership course, along with two faculty members. Intrinsic case studies arise from the investigator’s inherent curiosity in a classroom-level practical inquiry that integrated a new pedagogy (i.e. mindfulness) into teaching methods to learn, develop and refine this contemplative practice. Mindfulness is a competency required for effective leader development that was used as a five-minute opening, using the Headspace guided meditation, every class for a period of six weeks. The Social Change Model (SCM) guided this case study using qualitative methods (focus group, semi-structured interviews, post-survey, personal journals, observation/field notes, course artifacts, audiovisual recordings, meditation records via the Insight Timer) to evaluate the impact of mindfulness on undergraduate intrapersonal development. SCM focuses on intrapersonal development within the cognitive, affective and behavioural dimensions of the individual domain, and was used to evaluate the impact of mindfulness. Seventy-five percent of participants reported greater self-awareness, and also expressed the following themes: deep honesty, self-understanding, focus, open-mind (clarity and optimism), relaxed and calm, problem-solving internal conflict, empathy, genuine congruence, confidence, creativity, accountability, and self-improvement. Some participants perceived that mindfulness and leadership were integral and intertwined, and motivated them to become better leaders. The findings suggest that this intertwining was helpful and strengthened the intrapersonal development of undergraduate students.