Feasibility of Teacher-Taught Cognitively-Based Compassion Training Program for Enhancing Pro-social Attitudes and Behaviors with Elementary School Children Open Access

Starr, Steven David (2015)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/5425k985f?locale=en


This study investigates the comparative efficacy of a short-term, teacher-taught compassion cultivation program known as Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT) versus Mindfulness Attention Training (MAT) and no training for enhancing pro-social attitudes and behaviors of elementary school students. 1st and 4th grade classes were randomly assigned to receive seven weeks of CBCT, MAT, or no training from their trained teachers, with children completing pre- and post-intervention measures of a Story Stem task to measure pro-social reasoning, a distributive justice task to measure pro-social sharing, and the Olweus bullying questionnaire to measure perceptions and frequency of bullying. To supplement this data, a school ethnography and teacher practice and instruction logs were also conducted to gather a qualitative assessment of how well the program was implemented and how it could be improved upon for future administration. Results showed that for the Story Stem task, children in both the 1st and 4th grade CBCT classes had significantly greater improvements in pro-social reasoning than both the MAT and no training classes. No other significant effects of intervention were found for either the distributive justice or bullying questionnaire measures. Considerable limitations in the teacher training and the program implementation were incurred invalidating a critical assessment of this program. Corrections and future directions are discussed.

Table of Contents


Contemplative Science...6


Compassion Training...8

Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT)...9

Developmental Perspective of Contemplative Science...11

Neurocognitive Development...11

Psychosocial Development...12

Contemplative Science in Education...15

Mindfulness in Elementary School...16

CBCT in Elementary School...19




School Setting...24

School Observation and Ethnography...24

Experimental Design...26

Intervention Protocols...27

Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT)...27

Mindfulness Awareness Training (MAT)...28

No Training...29

Study Measures...29

Teacher Practice and Instruction Logs...29

Story Stem Task...30

Distributive Justice Dictator Game...31

Olweus Bullying Questionnaire (Modified)...31


Teacher Practice and Instruction Logs...32

Story Stem Task...33

Figure 1...35

Figure 2...36

Distributive Justice Dictator Game...36

Figure 3...38

Olweus Bullying Questionnaire...38


Strengths and Limitations...45

Moving Teacher-Taught CBCT Project Further...48

Future of Compassion Science and Education...50

Other Issues in Contemplative Education...52



Story Stem Narrative Coding Schematic...67

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