Preferred Name

Khalatbari, Nahal

Date of Award

Summer 2016

Document Type

Dissertation/Thesis

Degree Name

Educational Specialist (EdS)

Department

Department of Graduate Psychology

Advisor(s)

Tammy Gilligan

Abstract

Public schools are faced with the daunting task of both educating students and managing their behaviors exhibited at school. Unfortunately, many schools do not have prevention measures in order to decrease the amount of behavior problems and office referrals. Instead, they handle behavioral issues as they arise in a reactive manner and many times use detention and suspension as consequences. Thus, students miss academic and instructional time and often do not decrease the behaviors. A majority of students who are suspended will be suspended again in the future (Losen & Martinez, 2013). Another issue facing students is a dismal lack of time outdoors per day. Middle school and high school students often do not have a recess period and with the increase of technology and use of electronic devices, many students are not spending time outdoors after school hours either. This has led to a phenomenon coined by Richard Louv as ‘Nature-Deficit Disorder’ (2004). The current study used a blended mindfulness and nature intervention to increase students’ time outdoors and to prevent common behavioral problems. Students with a high number of office referrals were chosen from a middle school in Chesterfield County, Virginia. They participated in eight sessions using the research-based MindUp curriculum with a nature walk at the end of each session incorporating certain aspects of mindfulness. A teacher report checklist measured students’ classroom behaviors and individual office referrals were monitored. Students were interviewed at the conclusion of the intervention to assess the acceptability and feasibility on this prevention program. A case study analysis was used to evaluate the data. While most students did report an impact and there were teacher reports of positive change in most of the participants, the results of the teacher rating scale were mixed, showing some improvements in areas and declines in other areas. Additionally, two participants received behavior referrals over the course of the intervention and the other two did not. The mindfulness and nature intervention was feasible and appears to be a promising prevention program that schools might consider incorporating into tiers of support.

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