This was a mindfulness education and substance abuse prevention program for fourth- and fifth-grade students, which was designed to build self-regulatory skills and reduce intentions to use alcohol or tobacco. This program was rated Promising. There were statistically significant increases in measures of executive functioning, social problems, and aggression. There were no statistically significant effects on attention problems and intentions to use substances.
Program Goals/Target Population
Master Mind is a mindfulness education and substance abuse prevention program, for fourth- and fifth- grade students (9 to 11 years old), which is designed to build self-regulatory skills and reduce intentions to use alcohol or tobacco. The goal of the program is to help children become more aware of their thoughts and feelings and resist reflective, impulsive reactions that could be harmful to themselves, such as drinking or smoking. This school-based prevention program provides children with skills and resources to effectively manage everyday demands and foster the growth of self-regulatory abilities and healthy decisionmaking.
The 4-week Master Mind program is delivered by teachers in a classroom setting for 15 minutes every day for 20 consecutive days. Each week consists of four lessons introducing new concepts and skills. The fifth lesson consists of practicing mindfulness lessons.
The program is divided into four sections, consisting of five lessons per unit for a total of 20 lessons. The first section, awareness of body, focuses on teaching children how to be more aware of their bodies and sensations, and on breathing. The second section, awareness of feelings, focuses on teaching children to become more aware of their emotions and how to appropriately express positive and negative emotions. The third section, awareness of thoughts, focuses on teaching children to understand how thoughts work and understanding that not all thoughts are facts. The fourth and last section, awareness of relationships, focuses on teaching children how to understand other people’s behaviors and communicate with others, how to show compassion, and communicate in stressful situations.
Embedded within these four sections are five key program components: 1) mindful breathing, 2) mindful meditations, 3) mindful movements (e.g., developmentally appropriate yoga poses), 4) real-world applications, and 5) daily practice. While at school, children are guided through various audiotaped meditations to learn how to control their breathing. In addition, they are given the opportunity to participate in mindful movements (through yoga) to be more aware of their bodies and to achieve balance, stability, and strength. Certified adult instructors or school-aged child actors serve as instructors in the mindful yoga videos.
Children also participate in real-world application exercises that allow them to apply their new mindfulness skills to their own daily experiences. They are presented with hypothetical vignettes of fellow peers experiencing a problem, and as a class, use their new mindfulness skills to help solve the problems. In addition to practicing mindfulness daily in class, children complete daily exercises in student workbooks, outside of school.
The theory of change model underlying the Master Mind program suggests that mindfulness practice will 1) increase proximal outcomes, including attention, behavior regulation, and emotional regulation; and 2) will improve other more distal outcomes, including academic achievement and health decisionmaking such as the choice not to use cigarettes or alcohol (Parker and Kupersmidt 2016).
Executive Functioning (Overall)
Parker and colleagues (2014) found that participants in the Master Mind intervention group had higher overall executive functioning skills at posttest, compared with participants in the control group. This difference was statistically significant.
In addition, participants in the intervention group had lower teacher-rated social problems at posttest, compared with participants in the control group. This difference was statistically significant.
Intervention group participants had lower teacher-rated aggressive behaviors than those in the control group. This difference was statistically significant.
There were no statistically significant differences in teacher-rated attention problems between students in the intervention and control groups.
Intentions to Use Alcohol or Tobacco
There were no statistically significant differences in the intentions to use alcohol or tobacco between students in the intervention and control groups.
Parker and colleagues (2014) used a randomized design to examine the effectiveness of the Master Mind program on changing executive functioning, social problems, aggression, and intentions to use substances (alcohol or tobacco) among fourth- and fifth-grade children.
Emails containing information about the research project and the Master Mind program were sent to elementary school principals and teachers in a rural public school system in a southeastern state. Participants were drawn from the two schools who showed interest in the study. One school was randomly assigned to the Master Mind intervention group, and the other school to the control group, which received the regular education curriculum. All students in the intervention classrooms took part in the Master Mind program; however, only students with parent consent and youth assent participated in the program evaluation. A total of 111 students participated in the study, with 71 students (30 boys and 41 girls) in the intervention group and 40 students (17 boys and 23 girls) in the control group. Students ranged in age from 9 to 11; the average age was 10. The intervention group participants were 64 percent white, 10 percent Hispanic, and 26 percent other. The control group participants were 74 percent white, 15 percent Hispanic, 12 percent black, and 23 percent other. Since one school had larger class sizes than the other, preliminary analyses were used to examine whether the randomization of schools produced approximately equal samples with regard to demographic characteristics. There were no statistically significant differences in age, gender, race, or ethnicity between the intervention and control groups.
Teachers and students in both schools participated in pre- and posttest data collection. Teachers completed pretest ratings on their students’ behaviors in the classroom, while a member of the research team distributed and monitored students’ completion of pretest questionnaires. Students also completed a brief computer task, called the Flanker Fisk task (Diamond, Barnett, Thomas, and Munro 2007). Students then received the 4-week program from their classroom teachers, with teachers filling out a daily fidelity checklist. Posttest data from students and teachers was collected in the same manner.
The following four main outcomes were evaluated: 1) executive functioning, 2) intentions to use substances, 3) behavior, and 4) emotion regulation. Executive functioning (inhibitory control, cognitive flexibility, and working memory) was measured using the Flanker Fisk task. Participants’ intentions to use alcohol and tobacco was measured by a child self-report rating on the Intentions to Use Alcohol and Tobacco Scale (Kupersmidt et al. 2010). Participants’ adaptive functioning and behavioral/emotional problems in the classroom were measured by teachers on the Children’s Behavior Checklist–Teachers Report Form (Achenbach and Rescorla 2001). Cognitive and behavioral skills related to self-control were measured on the Self-Control Rating Scale (Kendall and Wilcox 1979). Main outcome analyses examined the effect of the intervention on the outcomes using hierarchical linear model analyses and mixed procedure analyses on SAS®. The study authors did not conduct subgroup analyses.
There is no cost information available for this program.
Teachers in the Master Mind program received a teacher manual containing 20 scripted lessons and additional instructional resources. In addition, teachers participated in an 8-hour training session, conducted by the program developer, to become familiar with the principles of mindfulness and the main components of the program. Teachers completed a posttraining survey to test their knowledge of the program material.
Implementation fidelity and feasibility were measured through observations conducted across the Master Mind intervention classrooms. Parker and colleagues (2014) found that teachers met the goals and objectives for each of the lessons observed (15 or 20). Some teachers were observed to have slightly modified the instructions to make them clearer for students or supplemented lessons by providing additional school-based examples of mindfulness concepts. Teachers indicated high feasibility of the Master Mind program, with lessons being easy to prepare and teach.
Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)
These sources were used in the development of the program profile:Study 1
Parker, Alison E., Janis B. Kupersmidt, Erin T. Mathis, Tracy M. Scull, and Calvin Sims. 2014. “The Impact of Mindfulness Education on Elementary School Students: Evaluation of the Master Mind Program.” Advances in School Mental Health Promotion
These sources were used in the development of the program profile:
Achenbach T.M., and L.A. Rescorla. 2001. Manual for the ASEBA School-Age Forms and Profiles
. Burlington, Vt.: University of Vermont, Research Center for Children, Youth, and Families.
Diamond, Adele, W. S. Barnett, Jessica Thomas, and Sarah Munro. 2007. “Preschool Program Improves Cognitive Control.” Science
Kendall, Phillip C., and Lance E. Wilcox. 1980. “Cognitive–Behavioral Treatment for Impulsivity: Concrete Versus Conceptual Training in Non-Self-Controlled Problem Children.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology
Kupersmidt, Janis B., Tracy M. Scull, and Erica W. Austin. 2010. “Media Literacy Education for Elementary School Substance Use Prevention: Study of Media Detective.” Pediatrics
Parker, Alison E., and Janis B. Kupersmidt. 2016. “Two Universal Mindfulness Education Programs for Elementary and Middle-School Students: Master Mind and Moment.” In Handbook of Mindfulness in Education
. New York, N.Y.: Springer, 335–54.
Following are CrimeSolutions.gov-rated practices that are related to this program:Universal School-Based Social Information Processing Interventions for Aggression
School-based violence prevention interventions that target social information-processing difficulties in students, aiming to reduce the aggressive and disruptive behavior of school-aged children. The practice is rated Promising for reducing aggressive behavior in school-aged children.Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
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