A College Course on Mindfulness and Self-Compassion: The Effect of Transformational Learning on Attachment Security, University Belongingness, and Academic Self-Efficacy


  • Timothy Pedigo Governors State University
  • Albert Tuskenis Governors State University
  • Alec Hakenjos Governors State University


Mindfulness and self-compassion can theoretically help students engage in transformational learning by facilitating intrinsic motivation, openness to self-exploration, consideration of new perspectives, and meaningful dialogue with fellow students, as well as by reducing emotional distress, fear of failure, and self-criticism. These beneficial effects of mindfulness and self-compassion would be reflected by improvements in students’ attachment security, university belongingness, and academic self-efficacy. We created a college course on Mindfulness Studies that emphasizes experiential learning and practice of mindfulness and self-compassion, with the purpose of expanding students’ potential for transformational learning through emotional, social, and academic effects. To assess whether the Mindfulness Studies course provides such benefits, we collected data with a sample of 70 students taking the course to compare pre-test and post-test measures of mindfulness, self-compassion, attachment anxiety, attachment avoidance, university belongingness, and academic self-efficacy. Results showed significant improvements from pre-test to post-test on all measures, suggesting that the Mindfulness Studies course successfully helps students engage more openly in transformational learning experiences. Additional, exploratory data analyses showed that improvements in mindfulness and self-compassion each contributed to improvements in the other outcomes, but that mindfulness and self-compassion have somewhat different roles with respect to emotional, social, and academic factors that promote transformational learning.  

Author Biographies

Timothy Pedigo, Governors State University

Assistant Professor, Division of Psychology and Counseling

Albert Tuskenis, Governors State University

Associate Professor, Division of Psychology and Counseling

Alec Hakenjos, Governors State University

Division of Psychology and Counseling, Research Assistant






Research Articles