Hillyer’s Marjorie Jackson Teaches Mindfulness Skills for Academic Success
The Mindful Learning Framework Gives Students a Method for Thinking and Learning
Hillyer College Assistant Professor of Academic Strategies Marjorie Jackson realized early in her tenure at UHart that first-year students began college without the ability to stay focused, think critically, and own their learning. These traits led to her research, and then development of The Mindful Learning Framework: Principles to Guide Thinking and Learning.
The Mindful Learning Framework gives students a method for thinking and learning. Jackson believes The Mindful Learning Framework is the precursor to acquiring the traditional academic strategies taught in Hillyer’s first year courses. Jackson also points out that all of The Mindful Learning Framework principles can and should be applied to all college courses.
One teaching strategy that provides an example of how Jackson uses The Mindful Learning Framework to re-envision note taking from a passive record of class notes to an active internal dialogue for students, she calls it “a Learning Log.” Initially, Jackson provides a template for the Learning Log for students to use until they, organically, develop this thinking and learning process for themselves.
The Learning Log uses all of the principles of The Mindful Learning Framework. At the start of class, students are encouraged to use a mindfulness practice to prepare themselves to learn. Followed by choosing an emoji that reflects how they are feeling at the moment in conjunction with their present mindset. Jackson will then have an open discussion about matters of life to help to foster caring and concern within the classroom community.
Once she begins teaching, Jackson asks the students to discuss and write down any information they might already know about the topic of the day. She asks the students to write, not only typical notes, but the thoughts that resonate as the topic is presented. The principles of metacognition, creative thinking, and critical thinking in The Mindful Learning Framework are the lenses for this process The final step of the Learning Log is for students to go back, later in the day, and reflect about the content in writing.
Jackson has her students submit their Learning Logs, for review, throughout the semester. In addition to providing extensive feedback to students about their thinking, Jackson has created a rubric to measure the growth in student thinking over time. Her students turn in 25 Learning Logs for the semester. To encourage students to feel safe as they experiment with digging deeply into their thinking, while following the Learning Logs process, grades are for completion only.
Jackson says her research, which was recently awarded funding through a UHart Coffin Grant, is focused on making The Mindful Learning Framework practical so that anyone can use it and learn from it. “It teaches students that thinking and learning is within their own power but it comes when it’s with intention,” she says.
Jackson created a diagram to help explain how the Mindful Leaning Framework works. The skills on the outside of are mindfulness, mindset, critical thinking, positive thinking, creative thinking, metacognition, and meditation. On the inside are affirmations such as, "I strengthen," "I'm present," "I believe," "I analyze," "I choose," "I create," and "I think." At the top of the diagram is the word "mindfulness," because without being present and in the space of thinking and learning nothing else can happen.