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Undergraduate Researchers

Mercedes Randall

Mercedes Randall, Psychology

“The Effects of Meditation on Reading Comprehension and Attention”

The effects of meditation on the mind and body have been the topic of numerous research studies. Many of these studies have examined the physical and psychological effects of meditation and have found that meditation can increase one’s ability to relax, may improve mood, and most importantly increase one’s ability to concentrate. This special ability to concentrate is known as mindfulness and is the desired outcome of the steady practice of mindfulness meditation. Although previous research has supported all of these effects of meditation, none of them have offered ideas as to the practical implications of this knowledge. This study aims to examine the effects of mindfulness meditation in an academic context. Using a sample of students, I hope to demonstrate the effects of meditation on reading comprehension and attention. My aim is to show that practicing mindfulness meditation can be of practical use to students in an academic setting.

 

How did you find out that you could do research in your field as an undergraduate?

I knew from several of my psychology classes that undergraduates should have some research experience before they graduate. My mentor told me that I could do an independent project as an undergraduate student. I thought that would be a really great way to gain research experience while studying something I am passionate about.

How did you decide on your research project?

I decided to do research on meditation because it is something that I have a great interest in and would like to study in the future.

Who did you seek out as a faculty mentor? How did you know that would be the right person? Was he easy to approach?

During a meeting with my advisor, I talked about my interest in psychology and spirituality and wondered how I could combine the two subjects. My advisor introduced me to Dr. Bediako who has background in doing research on different aspects of spirituality and I knew immediately that I wanted to work with him. He was very nice and easy to approach so I decided to ask him to be my faculty mentor for my independent research.

What has been the hardest part of your research so far? The most unexpected?

The hardest part of my research so far has been designing my study. There are so many things to think about and consider when trying to make the methods as sound as possible.

What advice do you have for other undergraduates about the research opportunities at UMBC?

The great thing about UMBC is that there are so many research projects going on. Students here have the opportunity to jump on board with current projects or create their own. I would tell other undergraduates that if you have an in idea about a great study, you can make it happen.