Inner Engineering: A Multiphase Mixed Methods Study Evaluating the Utility of Mindfulness Training to Cultivate Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Skills among First-year Engineering Students
Background – Among influential education reports, there is clear consensus that an expansive range of intrapersonal (e.g. self-regulation) and interpersonal competencies (e.g. empathy) highly influence educational and career success. Research on teaching and learning these competencies is limited in engineering education.
Purpose/Hypothesis – This dissertation study explores the impacts of a mindfulness training program on first-year engineering students and aims to understand potential impacts on the development of intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies.
Design/Method – A four-session mindfulness-based training program was designed, developed, and facilitated to cultivate intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies. This study employed a multiphase mixed method design in which quantitative and qualitative data was collected from a total of 35 different students through a post survey (n=31), 3-month follow-up survey (n=29), and interviews (n=18). t-tests were used to evaluate the statistical significance of the program and a rigorous thematic analysis process was utilized to help explain the quantitative data.
Results – The results suggest that the majority of students became more mindful, which led to improved intrapersonal competencies (i.e. self-management, critical-thinking, focus, resilience, and well-being) and interpersonal competencies (i.e. empathy, communication, teamwork, and leadership).
Discussion / Conclusions – The study provides compelling evidence that mindfulness training can support the development of intrapersonal and interpersonal skills among engineering students, which can support their overall academic experience, as well as personal and professional development. Future design and development work will be needed to evaluate the integration and scalability potential of mindfulness training within engineering programs.