A Community-University Partnership to Improve High School Math Performance and Engagement among At-Risk Students
The goal of this project is to implement an innovative positive psychology intervention aimed at improving high school math performance, particularly among high school girls and Hispanics/ Latinos. This year we successfully piloted this intervention in four diverse math classes at Niwot high school. This outreach award will allow us to expand this exciting project, and to more specifically target at-risk Hispanic/ Latino and female students.
The brief intervention, known as mindfulness training, consists of training in sustained attention, self-acceptance, and reduction of mental distraction. Mindfulness training has been shown in numerous studies to improve attention, working memory, and higher intellectual functioning (e.g, Zeidan et al, 2010; Jha et al, 2010), and to reduce worry, anxiety, depression, and susceptibility to distraction (e.g., Arch et al, 2012; Ortner et al, 2007; Hofmann et al, 2010), including for urban youth (Sibinga et al, 2011). Students will listen to an eyes-closed, brief (5 to 7 minute) mindfulness exercise immediately prior to each math exam. The exercise aims to reduce performance anxiety and promote attentional focus during the subsequent math exam, with the overarching goal of increasing math exam grades.
Results of last year’s pilot study demonstrated that the mindfulness group demonstrated lowered anxiety and improved math exam scores whereas the control group did not. We now aim to replicate this exciting finding at Fairview High School, particularly among at-risk students.