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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The effect of a brief mindful breathing exercise added to a reading fluency intervention for students with significant attentional difficulties Idler, Alyssa M.


Cognitive theories of reading acquisition emphasize cognitive processes such as attention and working memory, which could be problematic for students with significant attentional difficulties. Mindfulness interventions have been associated with improvements in executive functioning and positive academic outcomes. An alternating treatment design comparing a reading fluency intervention with and without an exploratory brief mindful breathing exercise was conducted with four elementary-aged students identified by classroom teachers as demonstrating difficulty with reading fluency and attention. It was hypothesized that participants would show greater gains in reading fluency, as measured by number of words correct per minute (WCPM), when they received the brief mindful breathing exercise compared to when they did not. It was also hypothesized that students would show increased attention and decreased feelings of stress, as indicated by self-report ratings, after participating in the brief mindful breathing exercise. The exploratory mindful breathing component was cost-efficient, and simple to implement. It appeared to benefit one student in increasing attention and decreasing feelings of stress. It did not, however, result in significant improvements in students’ rate of accurate oral reading, though the difference in WCPM between the first and third read-through of passages suggested that students benefitted from the reading fluency intervention regardless of condition. Future research examining the dosage of mindful breathing training required to see meaningful changes in cognitive processes, and in the intersection of mindful breathing and academic interventions for students, is recommended.

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