Measurement development and validation of measures of kindness, compassion, empathy, and care—particularly for school-aged children—is lacking in the field of contemplative teaching and learning. In 2015, the Mind & Life Institute sponsored a one-time Measurement Development Initiative in response to the need for innovative, mixed-methods, pragmatic tools to measure these key human qualities in educational settings.


Measure Development Research Grant Recipients


Lisa FlookLisa Flook, PhD

Associate Scientist
Center for Investigating Healthy Minds
Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging & Behavior
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Novel tools to assess the impact of contemplative practice in education

Mindfulness and compassion-based trainings that are offered under the rubric of contemplative education have the potential for wide-ranging effects, both individual and interpersonal. The current proposal seeks to utilize novel measures to investigate the effects of contemplative training in school settings for teachers and students. Measures administered in the laboratory under tightly controlled conditions do not necessarily reflect real-world behavior. Therefore, in order to understand and explore the complexity and nuance of the impact of practices, we focus on methods that are capable of capturing naturalistic experiences and interactions in the daily environment. Methods include daily diary reports, speech sampling, activity/sleep tracker (Fitbit) data and global self-report measures for up to 1 week before and after the intervention period. We will examine these measures in conjunction with students’ school records (grades, attendance) and student self-reports related to academics, relationships, and mood along with teacher self-reports of stress, well-being, and mindfulness.

We will target 5th & 6th grade students along with teachers from elementary and middle school. In Year 1 we will collect data from 40 students and 20 teachers over a one week period. In Year 2 we will collect data from 150-200 students and 40-60 teachers before and after their respective contemplative intervention training periods. The measures proposed here place an emphasis upon external validity as they are collected in naturalistic settings. An outcome of this project will be the availability of a digital daily diary report form that can be administered on-line for use by other researchers.


2014 Roeser PhotoRobert Roeser, PhD
Department of Psychology
Portland State University 

Measuring teacher care in elementary and middle school classrooms: Positivity, presence and patience

The goal of this project is to capitalize on two on-going school intervention studies: The Mindfulness in Elementary School Study and the Mindfulness in Middle School Study, to (a) develop new observational measures of teacher care in the classroom (b) to provide initial evidence for aspects of the validity and reliability of these new measures; and (c) to see if such measures are amenable to change through a well-studied teacher mindfulness program. The specific measures of teacher care in the classroom that we plan to develop as part of this project include: (1) teachers’ emotional positivity in classroom speech (derived from transcriptions of teacher speech in specified segments of classroom video); (2) teachers’ embodiment of a calm, clear, and kind presence in the classroom (derived from trained coders ratings of the same specified segments of classroom video); and (3) teachers’ patience in pedagogical exchanges with students during question-and-answer exchanges in the classroom (derived from trained coders ratings of actual wait time in teacher-student exchanges in these same specified segments of classroom video). Classroom observation, survey and executive function data from 22 elementary school teachers (grades K-3) and 78 middle school teachers (grades 6-8) will be used to develop and evaluate the teacher observation measures. Our goal in this project is to create rigorous, reliable, valid and feasible measures of teacher care in the classroom that can be shared with other labs to evaluate teacher-focused mindfulness and compassion programs like the Call to Care Initiative in Education.

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