Self-compassion is a concept which includes the independent, yet interactive, constructs of self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness (Neff, 2003). Increased self-compassion has been associated with adaptive outcomes in academic and performance environments such as goal setting and emotion-regulation. For example, a positive relationship has been found between self-compassion and time spent studying after facing a challenging test (Breines & Chen, 2012). In addition, self-compassion has been found to be positively associated with various indicators of wellbeing, including life satisfaction, connectedness, self-efficacy, and decreased worry (Smeets et al., 2014) and negatively associated with anxiety and self-criticism (Neff, 2003).
Carolyn McEwen teaches in the School of Kinesiology, in the areas of statistics, research methods, and sport and exercise psychology. Statistics anxiety has been identified as a key challenge for students in undergraduate statistics courses (Tishkovskaya & Lancaster, 2012). In response to this phenomenon, she introduced a self-compassion program into a large introductory undergraduate statistics course. Students participated in six five-to-ten minute self-reflection activities at key points in the term. These activities were shared alongside tutorial content using Mentimeter and small group discussion. These activities were designed based on the literature on self-compassion interventions (Mosewich et al., 2013; Desmond, 2017). They provided students with the opportunity to reflect on their beliefs about learning, build self-compassion, and connect with each other.
The impact of the embedded self-compassion activities was assessed with a key question in mind: Does an embedded self-compassion program in an introductory statistics course relate to students’ changes in emotion regulation, sense of belonging, mental well-being, academic buoyancy, academic performance, and statistics anxiety?
Key findings include:
- A negative association between subscales of statistics anxiety and final grade
- Self-compassion may have a buffering effect on increasing catastrophizing and decreasing sense of belonging at UBC and in KIN throughout the term.
Selected References and Measures
- Breines, J. G., & Chen, S. (2012). Self-compassion increases self-improvement motivation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38(9), 1133-1143.
- Desmond, T. (2017). The self-compassion skills workbook: A 14-day plan to transform your relationship with yourself. Publishing City:Norton.
- Mosewich, A. D., Crocker, P. R. E., Kowalski, K. C., & DeLongis, A. (2013). Applying self-compassion in sport: An intervention with women athletes. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 35, 514-524.
- Neff, K. (2003). Self-compassion: An alternative conceptualization of a healthy attitude toward oneself. Self and Identity, 2(2), 85-101.
- Smeets, E., Neff, K., Alberts, H., & Peters, M. (2014). Meeting suffering with kindness: Effects of a brief self‐compassion intervention for female college students. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 70(9), 794-807.
- Baloğlu, M. (2002). Psychometric properties of the statistics anxiety rating scale. Psychological Reports, 90(1), 315-325.
- Garnefski, N., & Kraaij, V. (2006). Cognitive emotion regulation questionnaire–development of a short 18-item version (CERQ-short). Personality and Individual Differences, 41(6), 1045-1053.
- Martin, A. J., & Marsh, H. W. (2009). Academic resilience and academic buoyancy: Multidimensional and hierarchical conceptual framing of causes, correlates and cognate constructs. Oxford Review of Education, 35(3), 353-370.
- Raes, F., Pommier, E., Neff, K. D., & Van Gucht, D. (2011). Construction and factorial validation of a short form of the self‐compassion scale. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 18(3), 250-255.
- Tishkovskaya, S. & Lancaster, G. A. (2012) Statistical education in the 21st century: A review of challenges, teaching innovations and strategies for reform, Journal of Statistics Education,20(2) , DOI: 10.1080/10691898.2012.11889641
- The University of British Columbia. (2018). The undergraduate experience survey 2018.
Recommended Citation: Health Promotion & Education, UBC. (2019). Fostering academic tenacity: Self-Compassion. Retrieved from: wellbeing.ubc.ca/wble
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support for this project provided by UBC Vancouver students via the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund.