Recent Trends in Mindfulness and Contemplative Pedagogy in Higher Education: The Brain Booth Initiative
Mindfulness has been around for thousands of year within specific cultures over the world but only lately has started to make its way into the higher education classroom of the western world. Mindfulness is a mental state of focused attention in the present moment without judgmental perspectives. Contemplative pedagogy has become recently a growing field of interest in colleges and universities. Contemplative pedagogy offers educational methods that support the development of student attention, emotional balance, empathetic connection, compassion, and altruistic behavior, while also providing new pedagogical techniques that support creativity and the learning of course content (Zajonc, 2013). Lately, librarians have started to pay attention to mindfulness and to engage with mindfulness activities (Karadjova, 2019, 2018; Mastel & Innes, 2013; Moniz et al., 2015; Mourer & Karadjova, 2017; Ruhlmann, 2017, etc.). Our practices have evolved to meet the needs of today’s students.
The Brain Booth initiative at the Humboldt State University (HSU) Library (https://libguides.humboldt.edu/brainbooth) is an innovative project promoting mindfulness and contemplative pedagogy as a means of introducing students to metacognition for academic success. The Brain Booth is an experiential space to learn about the mind body connection, reduce stress and optimize learning. This initiative addresses an essential need of our students. Nowadays, college students face a lot of different challenges in a very fast-paced society. In general, they have to navigate between two major factors affecting their performance and wellbeing, namely, copying with stress and dealing with distractions to sustain productive cognitive activities.
The Brain Booth offers mindfulness practices through Intentional Brain Breaks and activities that support Emotional Self-Regulation and foster Singular Thoughtful Focus. During the past year the Brain Booth had 1,000+ visitors. The Brain Booth has been embedded across HSU curricula in 7 departments and 11 courses and also provides 2 SkillShops on Well-being and Stress Management per week during the academic year.
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Karadjova, K.G. (2018). Mindfulness and Gamification in the Higher Education Classroom: Friends or Foes?, The International Conference on Higher Education Advances (HEAd'18), June 2018, Valencia, Spain.
Mastel, K., & Innes, G. (2013). Insights and practical tips on practicing mindful librarianship to manage stress. LIBRES: Library and Information Science Research Electronic Journal, 23(1), 1-8.
Moniz, R., Eshleman, J., Henry, J., Slutzky, H., & Moniz, L. (2015). The Mindful Librarian: Connecting the Practice of Mindfulness to Librarianship. Chandos Publishing.
Mourer, M. M & Karadjova, K.G. (2017). Dare to Share the Silence: Tools & Practices of Contemplative Pedagogy in a Library Brain Booth, In S. Kurbanoglu et al. (Eds.) Information Literacy in the Workplace. Communications in Computer and Information Science. Heidelberg, Germany: Springer.
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Zajonc, A. (2013). Contemplative pedagogy: a quiet revolution in higher education. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2013(134), 83-94.