MIEA at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis
Integrating Mindfulness into First-Year Seminar at IUPUI
Discover how MIEA partnered with Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) to introduce a four-week mindfulness training component into their first-year seminar courses. This innovative approach aimed to equip students with essential self-care and stress management skills while fostering a sense of gratitude and well-being.
Photo Credit: Liz Kaye / Indiana University
Recognizing the Need
Faculty and staff at IUPUI were committed to addressing student mental health concerns, especially in the context of the pandemic. With a focus on providing accessible resources, Heather Bowman (Director of First-Year Experiences at the Institute for Engaged Learning), Lisa Angermeier, and Nancy Barton (First-Year Experiences faculty fellows) collaborated to integrate mindfulness training seamlessly into the first-year seminar curriculum. By doing so, they aimed to create equitable access to mental health tools for all students and foster an engaged learning experience that encourages community building among peers.
The Mindfulness Curriculum
Ten sections of IUPUI’s first-year seminar courses participated in a four-week Mindfulness program, engaging 274 students. Koru Mindfulness, an evidence-based course specifically designed for college students, originated from Duke University in 2005. The program’s flexibility allows for customization based on class size, number of classes, and length of sessions, tailored to meet the unique needs of students.
Empowering Faculty and Staff
Six faculty and staff members at IUPUI underwent training to become certified MIEA teachers through a grant from the IUPUI Office of Health and Wellness Promotion. They collaborated with the First-Year Seminar instructors to lead the four-week programs for students. During 75-minute sessions, students learned a range of techniques to manage daily stressors, enhance self-regulation skills, and incorporate mindfulness practices into their lives. Topics covered included breath awareness, guided meditation, labeling thoughts and feelings, mindful eating, and walking meditation. Additionally, students engaged in meaningful discussions around present moment awareness, non-judgment, and understanding themselves as “human beings” rather than “human doings.”
From the collected reflections, we learned that the more consistently a student practiced the skills of mindfulness, the more their self-reported feelings of stress and anxiety were reduced.
Clinical Associate Professor; Coordinator of First-year Experience / IUPUI
The initiative leaders collected pre- and post-intervention survey data from the participating first-year students, focusing on perceived stress, mindfulness, gratitude, and self-compassion. Results indicated that 62% of students found the Koru Mindfulness practice favorable, with many implementing the learned strategies to navigate stressors in their daily lives. Notably, consistent practice of mindfulness skills correlated with reduced self-reported feelings of stress and anxiety among students.
Building on the success of the program, IUPUI plans to include mindfulness training in 16 first-year seminar courses in the upcoming fall semester, further emphasizing the importance of mindfulness education on campus.
This case study exemplifies the positive impact of integrating mindfulness into the first-year seminar curriculum at IUPUI, highlighting MIEA’s commitment to supporting the well-being and resilience of college students through evidence-based mindfulness practices.