Exploring the Impact of an Open Access Mindfulness Course with Online Graduate Students: A Mixed Methods Explanatory Sequential Study

Jackie Lyn Murphy


As enrollment in online graduate education increases, retention continues to be problematic for many colleges and universities across the United States.  Non-traditional students, who represent the majority of online graduate student enrollment, have unique issues related to persistence considering they often must juggle the demands of graduate school with work and families.  The competing demands can lead to increased levels of perceived stress, which can impact academic performance due to increased mind wandering and decreased attention.   Mindfulness is a practice that has been shown in the literature to decrease levels of perceived stress and mind wandering, therefore, the integration of mindfulness practice could have a positive effect on student persistence in online graduate education.  Therefore, an online open access mindfulness course was created at one large urban university. The purpose of this explanatory sequential study was to explore the impact of teaching mindfulness to online graduate students.  Self-report levels of perceived stress and mind wandering were significantly lower after students completed Module One of an open access mindfulness course.  Self-reported perceived persistence levels were found to be significantly higher after Module One with students in the first or second quarter of their program, students with little or no mindfulness experience, and students who meditated four or more times a week.  Furthermore, students interviewed felt that the course provided excellent foundational information about mindfulness that could be immediately applied, and therefore should be a requirement for all incoming students. 


Online Learning; Open Access; Graduate Students

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24059/olj.v25i2.2292

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