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Effectiveness of Mindfulness-based Colouring for Test Anxiety in Adolescents


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The purpose of this study was to compare the effectiveness of a mindfulness art activity (mandala) with a free draw/colouring activity on test anxiety in adolescents with an examination of gender differences, and to assess the effect of dispositional mindfulness on students’ experience of mindfulness and test anxiety states. Participants were 193 Grade 8 students (56.6% female; Mage = 13.49 years, SD = 0.50) randomly assigned to a mandala (n = 97) or free draw/colouring condition (n = 96). Students completed standardized measures to assess test anxiety and state mindfulness pre- post-colouring intervention, immediately prior to completing a test, in addition to a measure of dispositional mindfulness. Results showed a significant decrease in test anxiety and a significant increase in state mindfulness following both activities; however, a gender by group by time interaction was found such that females reported a greater decrease in test anxiety in the free condition compared to males. Furthermore, the baseline measures (pre-intervention state mindfulness and test anxiety) were found to fully mediate relations between dispositional mindfulness and the outcome measures (post-intervention state mindfulness and test anxiety). Implications for educators and future research and practice regarding the use of mindfulness activities in the classroom are discussed.
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Effectiveness of
colouring for test
anxiety in adolescents
Dana Carsley
McGill University, Canada
Nancy L. Heath
McGill University, Canada
The purpose of this study was to compare the effectiveness of a mindfulness art activity
(mandala) with a free draw/colouring activity on test anxiety in adolescents with an
examination of gender differences, and to assess the effect of dispositional mindfulness
on students’ experience of mindfulness and test anxiety states. Participants were 193
Grade 8 students (56.6% female; M
¼13.49 years, SD ¼0.50) randomly assigned to a
mandala (n¼97) or free draw/colouring condition (n¼96). Students completed stan-
dardized measures to assess test anxiety and state mindfulness pre- post-colouring
intervention, immediately prior to completing a test, in addition to a measure of dis-
positional mindfulness. Results showed a significant decrease in test anxiety and a sig-
nificant increase in state mindfulness following both activities; however, a gender by
group by time interaction was found such that females reported a greater decrease in
test anxiety in the free condition compared to males. Furthermore, the baseline meas-
ures (pre-intervention state mindfulness and test anxiety) were found to fully mediate
relations between dispositional mindfulness and the outcome measures (post-interven-
tion state mindfulness and test anxiety). Implications for educators and future research
and practice regarding the use of mindfulness activities in the classroom are discussed.
adolescents, art making, mandala, mindfulness, test anxiety
School Psychology International
!The Author(s) 2018
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/0143034318773523
Corresponding author:
Dana Carsley, Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, McGill University, 3700 McTavish
Street, Montreal, QC, H3A 1Y2, Canada.
Mindfulness-based programs have become increasingly popular school-based inter-
ventions for youth (Tan, 2016; Zenner, Herrnleben-Kurz, & Walach, 2015;
Zoogman, Goldberg, Hoyt, & Miller, 2014). Mindfulness involves the ability to
pay attention to the moment, on purpose, without judgement (Kabat-Zinn, 2003)
and can be regarded as a state or disposition; specifically, individuals can experi-
ence moments of mindfulness (state mindfulness) and/or maintain a general ability
to be mindful (dispositional mindfulness). Mindfulness-based interventions have
been incorporated in schools for anxiety reduction, and recently, studies have
examined the effectiveness of mindfulness-based approaches to help elementary
(age 9- to 12-years-old) and secondary school students (age 13- to 15-years-old)
manage anxiety in test situations (e.g., Arjunan & Joseph, 2016; Carsley, Heath, &
Fajnerova, 2015; Napoli, Krech, & Holley, 2005). Despite these emerging studies,
there is limited research on the effectiveness of feasible mindfulness-based
approaches for test anxiety in adolescence, when test anxiety is a growing problem
that needs to be addressed (von der Embse & Hasson, 2012).
Mindfulness-based art making has received attention in the literature and pop-
ular culture as a feasible activity for test anxiety, anxiety, and stress reduction
(Carsley et al., 2015; Carsley & Heath, 2018; Curry & Kasser, 2005). Colouring
structured mandalas (circles composed of small symmetrical shapes) has been
incorporated in schools, as colouring in these shapes is believed to encourage
focused attention and awareness of current experiences (Beckwith, 2014).
Recently, studies have examined the effectiveness of structured mandala colouring
for test anxiety in children compared to free colouring (Carsley et al., 2015; Carsley
& Heath, 2018); however, results from these studies have shown that (1) it is
unclear whether the suggested mindfulness strategy of colouring mandalas is the
most beneficial colouring technique for decreasing test anxiety, and (2) individual
differences may help explain students’ responses to this activity. The purpose of
this study is to examine the effectiveness of mindfulness-based colouring for test
anxiety in adolescents, and individual factors that may explain students’ receptivity
to this activity.
Test anxiety, an individual’s response to test-taking, is a concern among
adolescents as testing requirements are increasing and students feel pressured to
succeed academically (Lowe, Grumbein, & Raad, 2011; Wren & Benson, 2004).
One-third of adolescents report experiences of test anxiety (Lowe & Lee, 2008;
Whitaker-Sena, Lowe, & Lee, 2007), which includes test anxiety states (immediate
concerns before a test) or individual traits (day-to-day concerns associated
with testing situations; Lowe & Lee, 2008). Adolescents report that their
greatest school-based worries and anxieties include test-taking and assessment
(Putwain, Chamberlain, Daly, & Sadreddini, 2014), and unlike other fears, test
anxiety increases with age as youth progress through school (McDonald, 2001;
Peleg, 2004).
Individuals reporting test anxiety may also experience other types of anxiety
disorders (King, Mietz, Tinney, & Ollendick, 1995; LeBeau et al., 2010), low
self-esteem (Pekrun, 2000), lower academic performance, grades, standardized
2School Psychology International
achievement scores (Eum & Rice, 2011; Everson, Millsap, & Rodriguez, 1991;
Segool, Carlson, Goforth, Von der Embse, & Barterian, 2013), challenges
with learning new material (Chapell et al., 2005), lack of motivation, negative
self-evaluation, struggles with concentration (Swanson & Howell, 1996), grade
retention (Hembree, 1988), and dropout (Chapell et al., 2005; Tobias, 1979).
Many test anxiety interventions for youth are time-consuming, (e.g., Bradley
et al., 2010; Gregor, 2005; Larson et al., 2010; Weems et al., 2009; Yahav &
Cohen, 2008), and continuous implementation of these programs poses a challenge
for educators due to existing curriculum demands. Given that adolescents report
tests as a critical source for worry throughout their school experience (Putwain
et al., 2014) and that there are many challenges associated with test anxiety, there is
a need for feasible and effective test anxiety interventions.
Mindfulness has been shown to be a practical and feasible school-based inter-
vention for youth (Carsley, Khoury, & Heath, 2017). Originating from Eastern
perspectives, mindfulness consists of a comprehensive awareness and alertness on
the present moment (Bodhi, 2011; Dalai Lama & Berzin). Throughout the last 20
years, this construct has become prevalent in Western cultures as a way of focusing
attention and developing awareness of the moment (Miller, Fletcher, & Kabat-
Zinn, 1995). Specifically, mindfulness is considered to be a theoretical construct, a
practice, and a psychological state (Germer, 2005). In addition to the goal of being
mindful, mindfulness includes a practical element, in which individuals participate
in practices to experience focused attention and present-moment awareness
(Kabat-Zinn, 2003).
Mindfulness-based interventions have been incorporated in high schools
for general anxiety (Beauchemin, Hutchins, & Patterson, 2008; Burke, 2010;
Zenner et al., 2015), and test anxiety reduction (Arjunan & Joseph, 2016). In a
recent meta-analysis (Kallapiran, Kirubakaran, & Hancock, 2015), mindfulness-
based interventions were associated with reduced anxiety, among other mental
health concerns (e.g., depression, stress) in children and adolescents. Zoogman
and colleagues’ (2014) meta-analysis on mindfulness interventions for youth
demonstrated significantly greater effect sizes for mindfulness interventions target-
ing psychological symptoms compared to physiological and cognitive outcomes.
Mindfulness has been associated with a multitude of well-being benefits for ado-
lescents (e.g., reduced anxiety, test anxiety, stress), and the Developmental
Contemplative Science (DCS; Roeser & Pinela, 2014) theory can help explain
how mindfulness functions in this population. DCS, part of the Social-
Emotional Learning (SEL) field, focuses on the mechanisms by which individuals
use knowledge, attitudes, and skills for understanding and managing emotions, set
and accomplish positive goals, demonstrate empathy for others, create and sustain
positive relationships, and make sensible choices (CASEL, 2015). A focus of SEL,
DCS is concerned with understanding the mind-body system for use in a curricu-
lum of mental training in education (i.e., mindfulness) to enhance human develop-
ment within and across developmental periods (e.g., Frank, Jennings, &
Greenberg, 2013; Roeser, 2013; Roeser & Pinela, 2014; Roeser & Zelazo, 2012).
Carsley and Heath 3
Drawing on previous research, DCS proposes three core premises for the
mechanisms by which mindfulness functions. First, it has been suggested that
the brain adapts in response to experience, intentional training and/or education
(e.g., mindfulness activities); neuroplasticity leads to actual physiological changes.
Second, engaging in mindfulness activities will eventually lead to increases in mind-
fulness; secularized mindfulness training (i.e. skill acquisition and eventual devel-
opment of expertise) can significantly alter day-to-day cognitive and emotional
processes. Finally, there are specific developmental periods in which particular
brain regions and networks are more likely to be modified, and developmental
stages (e.g., early adolescence) can predispose an individual to be open to training.
This theory suggests that response to mindfulness training differs between devel-
opmental periods (Roeser & Pinela, 2014; Roeser & Zelazo, 2012) and adolescents
in early high school represent a developmental period in which mindfulness
activities can be particularly beneficial.
Mindfulness-based activities have been incorporated in educational settings for
adolescents (Carsley et al., 2017); however, school demands limit the feasibility of
continuing to implement these programs within schools. Many existing mindful-
ness-based school programs require several sessions integrated into the school
schedule over multiple weeks (e.g., Britton, Lepp, Niles, Rocha, Fisher, & Gold,
2014; Johnson, Burke, Brinkman, & Wade, 2016). These programs include activ-
ities such as breath counting and awareness exercises, guided-mindfulness audio
files, body scans and sweeps, and can be incorporated in the classroom once a week
for 35–60 minutes over a number of weeks, or for shorter periods several times a
week. These programs have been found to be effective in reducing anxiety in youth
(e.g., Bennet & Dorjee, 2016; Britton et al., 2014; Kallapiran et al., 2015; Zoogman
et al., 2014); however, the time commitment and participation from the teachers in
consistently implementing these activities in their classrooms poses a significant
challenge as school-based programs requiring a lot of time are difficult to imple-
ment and are not likely to be carried out over time (Bishop, Bryant, Giles, Hansen,
& Dusenbury, 2006; Fridrici & Lohaus, 2009). Research has found that single-
session 15-minute mindfulness meditations have been effective in reducing negative
affect (Arch & Craske, 2006; Hafenbrack, Kinias, & Barsade, 2014) and negativity
bias (Kiken & Shook, 2011); as such, it would be beneficial to assess brief and
effective mindfulness interventions for teachers to incorporate in their classrooms,
and that students could easily use to diminish anxiety resulting from test-taking.
Recently, there has been an increase in studies examining the effectiveness of
brief mindfulness-based art activities for test anxiety and anxiety reduction in
elementary and college samples (Carsley et al., 2015; Carsley & Heath, 2018;
Curry & Kasser, 2005; Van der Vennet & Serice, 2012). Structured mandala colour-
ing is considered to be mindfulness-based as colouring in the detailed shapes is
believed to allow individuals to experience focused awareness of the present
moment, as they develop a mindfulness state (Beckwith, 2014; Carsley et al.,
2015; Curry & Kasser, 2005; Henderson, Rosen, & Mascaro, 2007). This interven-
tion has been shown to be effective for reducing anxiety and test anxiety in
4School Psychology International
students, and feasible for implementation in schools, as unlike other mindfulness-
based programs, it requires limited resources, teacher demands, and training
(Carsley et al., 2015; Carsley & Heath, 2018; Curry & Kasser, 2005; Van der
Vennet & Serice, 2012). Colouring in the intricate shapes and patterns allows
students to experience a focused and aware state inherent to mindfulness, which
has also been found in other forms of meditation (Curry & Kasser, 2005).
The frontal lobes of the brain, which are essential for executive functions such as
planning and organizing, are potentially one of the last areas of the brain to
develop and may not even develop until later in life (Sowell, Thomson, Holmes,
Jernigan, & Toga, 1999); therefore, engaging in mandala colouring, which includes
a planned structured design, can help adolescents organize their experience as they
are provided with a sense of direction to guide their organization, unlike free
colouring. The lack of structure found in free colouring can be challenging and
stressful, and has been suggested to induce anxiety in students, as they feel required
to create their own structure (Curry & Kasser, 2005), particularly if their executive
functions are not fully developed. Although colouring mandalas has been found to
be effective in reducing anxiety compared to unstructured colouring in university
students (Curry & Kasser, 2005; Van der Vennet & Serice, 2012), several studies
conducted with elementary school students have demonstrated that free colouring
can be as effective as mandalas for decreasing test anxiety, as well as increasing
mindfulness states (Carsley et al., 2015; Carsley & Heath, 2018).
In Curry and Kasser’s (2005) and Van der Vennet & Serice’s (2012) studies,
university students participated in structured mandala, unstructured free, or struc-
tured plaid form colouring for 20 minutes following an anxiety induction. Anxiety
was assessed using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory at baseline, pre-colouring,
and post-colouring activity. Participants in Curry and Kasser’s study (N¼84; 65%
female) demonstrated significantly greater decreases in anxiety in the mandala and
structured plaid form groups compared to the free group. In Van der Vennet and
Serice’s replication study (N¼50; 82% female), students in the mandala condition
reported greater decreases in anxiety compared to the free condition; however,
participants in the free condition also demonstrated decreases in anxiety; as
such, further examination of these activities was required.
In the first study examining the effectiveness of structured mandala versus free
unstructured colouring for test anxiety in children, both activities were found to be
effective in reducing test anxiety (Carsley et al., 2015). Participants were 52 students
in grades 4 to 6 (53.8% female), randomly assigned to one of two colouring
activities, which were completed before a spelling test. Although significant overall
decreases in test anxiety for both groups were found, males reported significantly
greater decreases in test anxiety in the free condition, compared to females
¼0.058). According to Carsley et al. (2015), these differing responses could
possibly be due to inherent gender differences between males and females in
response to mindfulness activities. It is also possible that males’ fine motor skill
development occurs later than females, which would explain their significant
decreases in test anxiety following the free activity, unlike females. These findings
Carsley and Heath 5
may also suggest underlying individual differences in dispositional mindfulness,
which might influence students’ ability to respond mindfully to mindfulness-
based interventions.
To further examine the underlying factors contributing to this gender difference,
Carsley and Heath (2018) assessed the effectiveness of these colouring activities
on test anxiety and state mindfulness with children in grades 4 to 6 (N¼152;
50% female), randomly assigned to a structured mandala or a free draw/colouring
group, matched for gender. Students completed the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory
for Children-State form and an adapted version of the Mindful Attention
Awareness Scale, state version, before and after colouring. Participants then com-
pleted a spelling test and the Child and Adolescent Mindfulness Measure to assess
dispositional mindfulness. Consistent with Carsley et al. (2015), results revealed
overall significant decreases in test anxiety (Z
¼0.178), and significant increases in
state mindfulness pre–post-intervention (Z
¼0.084) for both groups; however,
there were no gender differences.
In addition, Carsley and Heath (2018) found a significant positive correlation
between dispositional mindfulness and pre-intervention state mindfulness;
however, there was a ceiling effect such that children with higher dispositional
mindfulness also indicated high reports of state mindfulness pre-intervention,
demonstrating there was little room for them to improve in their mindfulness
post-intervention. Dispositional mindfulness has been shown to contribute to
psychological well-being outcomes from mindfulness interventions, including test
anxiety (Cunha & Paiva, 2012; Napoli et al., 2005), can develop over time, and is
associated with the experiencing of state mindfulness following an intervention
(Kiken, Garland, Bluth, Palsson, & Gaylord, 2015; Shapiro, Oman, Thoresen,
Plante, & Flinders, 2008). Carsley and Heath’s (2018) study revealed that indivi-
duals with higher dispositional mindfulness already report high state-mindfulness
pre-intervention and may not experience the mindfulness benefits compared to
those with lower dispositional mindfulness. Although significant increases in
mindfulness states were found following the colouring activities, this change was
found for participants who reported lower pre-intervention state mindfulness
and dispositional mindfulness; therefore, it appears as if dispositional mindfulness
is influencing pre-intervention state mindfulness, which in turn is determining
whether participants are able to report benefits/changes post-intervention.
It would be important to examine the effect of dispositional mindfulness on
adolescents’ post-intervention state mindfulness through their pre-intervention
reports, as well as the effect of dispositional mindfulness on post-intervention
test anxiety through reports of pre-intervention test anxiety, to determine whether
this individual difference can impact students’ response to the intervention.
The results from the elementary studies provide additional information on the
effectiveness of these art activities and preliminary explanations for the contribu-
tion of dispositional mindfulness for a mindfulness intervention. Given that (1)
adolescence is a period in which test anxiety is highly prevalent, (2) response to
mindfulness training may be particularly beneficial for adolescents, (3) there is a
6School Psychology International
need for brief and feasible test anxiety and mindfulness-based interventions in high
schools, and (4) the role of dispositional mindfulness on participants’ response to
the intervention through their pre-intervention reports requires further examina-
tion, it is critical to examine the effectiveness of these activities with adolescents, as
well as the individual differences (e.g., mindfulness dispositions, gender) that might
impact response to the activity.
Mindfulness-based art making for anxiety and/or test anxiety has been studied
in elementary and university populations; yet, there have been no studies con-
ducted that assess the effectiveness of this activity in adolescence, a developmen-
tal period in which test anxiety is prevalent and mindfulness activities are
theorized to be particularly helpful. The previously conducted elementary studies
found that mandalas and free/draw colouring were associated with reductions in
test anxiety pre–post intervention (Carsley et al., 2015; Carsley & Heath, 2018);
however, the university studies revealed that mandala colouring is more beneficial
than free colouring at this age (Curry & Kasser, 2005; Van der Vennet & Serice,
2012). Based on the DCS theory that early adolescence represents a developmen-
tal period in which students will experience mindfulness benefits associated with a
mindfulness-based activity, and that the potential benefits of mindfulness-based
art making for adolescents has yet to be investigated, the purpose of this
study was to address this gap and expand on the previously conducted studies
by examining the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based art activity for test anxiety
in high school students. Given the differences in executive functioning
throughout development (Sowell et al., 1999), one might expect differential find-
ings with mindfulness-based art compared to free colouring during adolescence.
This research will help advance the previously conducted research in this area
and elucidate possible developmental differential responses to this intervention
in adolescents. The first objective is to compare the effectiveness of a structured
mindfulness colouring (mandala) with a control free/draw colouring activity on
reducing test anxiety and increasing state mindfulness in adolescents prior to a
test, with an examination of possible gender differences. We hypothesize that
students in the mandala condition will report greater decreases in test anxiety
(H1) and greater increases in state mindfulness (H2) compared to participants in
the free condition. Based on the mixed gender findings in previous literature, the
absences of reported gender differences in adolescence, and because there is no
identifiable mechanism as to why such a difference might occur, no directional
hypotheses regarding gender are proposed. The second objective is to assess the
effect of dispositional mindfulness on students’ mindfulness and test anxiety
states post-intervention. Drawing on the literature that showed a relation between
dispositional mindfulness and pre-intervention state mindfulness (Carsley &
Heath, 2018), and the likelihood that dispositional mindfulness influences pre-
intervention state mindfulness, which in turn is determining participants’ ability
to report benefits post-intervention, we hypothesize that pre-intervention state
mindfulness would mediate relations between dispositional mindfulness and
post-intervention state mindfulness (H3), and that pre-intervention test anxiety
Carsley and Heath 7
would mediate the relation between dispositional mindfulness and post-interven-
tion test anxiety (H4).
Participants were 193 Grade 8 students (56.6% female; M
¼13.49 years,
SD ¼0.50) from public co-ed elementary schools in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
These particular schools have rigorous entrance requirements, thus this study
included a sample of high achieving students. Once university ethics, school
board and governing board approvals were obtained, an oral script describing
the study was read and consent forms were provided to the students to take
home to their parents. Students agreeing to participate returned the forms.
Of the 265 consent forms distributed, 195 approved consent forms were received
(74% consent); two students were not able to participate due to absence. The final
sample included 193 participants. Random assignment revealed that the groups
did not differ according to gender (mandala: n¼97; 54.6% female; free: n¼96;
58.3% female).
State-Trait Anxiety Inventory–State Anxiety Scale. The State Anxiety Scale from the
State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) is a widely used self-report measure assessing
adolescents’, college students’, and adults’ current state of anxiety (Spielberger,
1989). The state scale contains 20 items for individuals to indicate how they feel
in a particular moment in time and takes 5–10 minutes to complete. Items include
statements such as ‘I am worried’ or ‘I feel upset’ and participants indicate their
response on a four-point scale (0 ¼not at all; 4 ¼very much so). This measure has
been shown to have high internal consistency (¼0.86–0.96) and test–retest
reliability ranging from 0.65 to 0.76 (Spielberger, Gorsuch, Lushene, Vagg, &
Jacobs, 1983). In the present study, Cronbach alphas ranged from 0.88 to 0.90
pre-post-intervention, with a test–retest correlation of 0.65.
Mindful Attention Awareness Scale, state version. The Mindful Attention Awareness
Scale, state version (state MAAS) measures current mindfulness states, and is
based on the original Mindful Attention Awareness Scale, which measures trait
mindfulness (Brown & Ryan, 2003). The state MAAS includes five items modified
from the original MAAS. The state MAAS contains items directed toward a pre-
vious state-mindfulness experience (e.g., ‘I was rushing through something without
being really attentive to it’). For this study, items were adapted to measure immedi-
ate mindfulness experiences pre–post-intervention (e.g., ‘Right now, I am rushing
through this without really paying attention to it’). Participants report how they
feel in a particular moment in time with a six-point scale (0 ¼not at all; 6 ¼very
8School Psychology International
much). Scores for this measure are reversed, such that lower scores demonstrate
lower state mindfulness. In the current study, Cronbach alphas ranged from 0.74 to
0.84 pre–post-intervention, with a test–retest correlation of 0.74.
Child and Adolescent Mindfulness Measure. The Child and Adolescent Mindfulness
Measure (CAMM) is a ten-item reverse-scored self-report measure of dispositional
mindfulness for children and adolescents (Greco, Baer, & Smith, 2011). Items on
this measure include present moment awareness (e.g., ‘I keep myself busy so I don’t
notice my thoughts or feelings’) and non-judgmental acceptance (e.g., ‘I stop
myself from having feelings that I don’t like’). Using a five-point scale (0 ¼never
true; 4 ¼always true), participants report how often an item is true for them. In the
present study, the CAMM was shown to have a Cronbach alpha of 0.84.
The researcher and assistants arrived at the schools and entered the students’
classrooms to conduct the study. Students were randomly assigned to an
intervention (mandala) or control (free) group. The researcher and assistants pro-
vided all students with blank envelopes that included the questionnaires and either
a structured mandala or blank sheet of paper for the colouring activities. The
papers in the envelopes were only visible and opened by students once the study
began to ensure the distribution procedure was completely random. Students were
informed that their parents would receive their spelling test results upon comple-
tion of the study. This method of eliciting test anxiety is an effective method that
has been used in previous studies (Carsley et al., 2015; Carsley & Heath, 2018).
Students completed the STAI and the state MAAS. To ensure all instructions
and items were clear, the researcher read through each item on the measures, and
students were instructed to respond to each item truthfully. Following completion
of the pre-intervention measures, students were provided with coloured pencils and
the intervention group coloured in the same structured mandalas while the control
group was asked to free draw/colour on a blank sheet of paper for 15 minutes.
All participants then completed the STAI and state MAAS to evaluate
post-intervention test anxiety and state mindfulness. To ensure consistency in the
measures at the different time points, the researcher read through the question-
naires with the students.
All students then completed the spelling section of the Wide Range Achievement
Test (WRAT-4) over a 15-minute period. To assess dispositional mindfulness,
students filled out the CAMM. Participants were then provided with a debriefing
on the purpose of the study and the opportunity to ask questions. They received a
debriefing sheet to take home to their parents, and a $10 gift card to a local coffee
shop. Once the data was entered, schools were given summarized group scores for
the spelling test and test anxiety questionnaires. Each student’s spelling and test
anxiety scores were summarized and given to their parents, as well as resources for
literacy and writing development, and anxiety management.
Carsley and Heath 9
Data were analysed with SPSS version 20. A total of ten missing values were found.
Examination of missing data revealed that all variables had less than 5% of missing
values. The Estimation Maximization (EM) procedure was conducted to impute
missing data so that the sample size was maintained within each group.
Nine univariate outliers were identified and transformed to values that were
1-unit lower or higher than the next lowest or higher value that was not an identi-
fied outlier (Tabachnick & Fidell, 2007).
All relevant assumptions were checked and verified. As demonstrated in Table 1,
the mandala and free group were not significantly different according to gender,
age, and pre-intervention test anxiety and state mindfulness scores; therefore, these
variables were not controlled for in all further analyses.
To test the effect of the colouring activities and gender on post-intervention test
anxiety and state mindfulness, two separate repeated measures ANOVAs were
conducted. Results for the repeated measures ANOVA for state mindfulness
showed a significant main effect for time, F(1, 189) ¼42.26, p<0.01, Wilk’s
¼0.817, partial Z
¼0.183; examination of the means revealed that state mind-
fulness scores increased pre- to post-intervention for all conditions, regardless of
gender (see Table 2). Results for the test anxiety analysis also showed a significant
main effect for time, F(1, 189) ¼91.88, p<0.01, Wilk’s ¼0.673, partial
¼0.327; however, significant interactions were found between time and
gender, F(1, 189) ¼6.58, p¼0.011, Wilk’s ¼0.966, partial Z
¼0.034, and
time, colouring activity, and gender, F(1, 189) ¼8.81, p¼0.003, Wilk’s
¼0.955, partial Z
¼0.045. Students in the mandala condition reported signifi-
cant decreases in test anxiety pre- post-intervention; however, females in the free
condition reported significantly greater decreases in test anxiety compared to males
in the free condition (see Figure 1.1 and 1.2).
To assess the role of pre-intervention state mindfulness in the relation between
dispositional mindfulness and post-intervention state mindfulness, Preacher and
Hayes’ (2004) procedure was used to perform the mediation analysis. The effect
of dispositional mindfulness on pre-intervention state mindfulness was significantly
positive (path a; b¼0.060, p<0.001, CI[0.040, 0.081]); higher levels of disposi-
tional mindfulness were associated with higher levels of pre-intervention
Table 1. Demographic information and pre-intervention test anxiety and state mindfulness
scores across participant group.
Variable Mandala group Free group Significance test
Gender, % female 54.6% 58.3%
(1) ¼3.24, p¼0.072
Age, M(SD) 13.46 (.50) 13.52 (.50) t(191) ¼0.79, p¼0.68
Test anxiety (pre), M(SD) 37.04 (10.74) 37.34 (9.79) t(191) ¼0.20, p¼0.84
State mindfulness (pre), M(SD) 4.38 (1.18) 4.33 (1.09) t(191) ¼0.26, p¼0.80
10 School Psychology International
state mindfulness. Similarly, the effect of pre-intervention state mindfulness on
post-intervention state mindfulness was significantly positive (path b; b¼0.752,
p<0.001, CI[0.647, 0.858]). The total effect of dispositional mindfulness on post-
intervention state mindfulness was significant (path c; b¼0.046, p<0.001,
Test anxiety scores
Free colourin
Figure 1.2. Pre- to post-intervention test anxiety scores in the free condition.
Test anxiety scores
Mandala colourin
Figure 1.1. Pre- to post-intervention test anxiety scores in the mandala condition.
Table 2. Means (and Standard Deviations) for test anxiety and state mindfulness levels in the
mandala and free colouring groups.
Test anxiety
Test anxiety
State mindfulness
State mindfulness
Group NM(SD) M(SD) M(SD) M(SD)
Mandala 97 37.04 (10.74) 31.29 (8.68) 4.38 (1.18) 4.74 (1.19)
Free 96 37.34 (9.79) 31.81 (8.43) 4.33 (1.09) 4.75 (1.11)
Carsley and Heath 11
CI[0.024, 0.067]). When controlling for pre-intervention state mindfulness, the
direct effect of dispositional mindfulness on post-intervention state mindfulness
was not significant (path c’; b¼0.001, p¼0.955, CI[0.016, 0.017). Additionally,
the indirect effect of dispositional mindfulness on post-intervention state mindful-
ness through pre-intervention state mindfulness was significant (ab ¼0.045,
CI[0.027, 0.065). These results show that pre-intervention state mindfulness fully
mediates the relationship between dispositional mindfulness and post-intervention
state mindfulness (see Table 3 and Figure 2.1).
Preacher and Hayes’ (2004) procedure was also used to perform the mediation
analysis assessing the role of pre-intervention test anxiety in mediating the relation
between dispositional mindfulness and post-intervention test anxiety. The effect of
dispositional mindfulness on pre-intervention test anxiety was significantly negative
(path a; b¼0.710, p<0.001, CI[0.884, 0.536]); higher levels of dispositional
mindfulness were associated with lower levels of pre-intervention test anxiety. The
effect of pre-intervention test anxiety on post-intervention test anxiety was signifi-
cantly positive (path b; b¼0.508, p<0.001, CI[0.404, 0.612]). The total effect of
dispositional mindfulness on post-intervention test anxiety was significant (path c;
b¼0.459, p<0.001, CI[0.618, 0.305]). When controlling for pre-
intervention test anxiety, the direct effect of dispositional mindfulness on
Table 3. Correlations between dispositional mindfulness, pre-intervention
state mindfulness, and post-intervention state mindfulness.
1. Dispositional mindfulness r1
2. Pre-intervention state mindfulness r0.39* 1
3. Post-intervention state mindfulness r0.29* 0.74* 1
n193 193
Pre SM
DM Post SM
(.060)* (.752)*
(.046)* (.001)
Figure 2.1. The mediating effect of pre-intervention state mindfulness in the association
between dispositional mindfulness and post-intervention state mindfulness.
12 School Psychology International
post-intervention test anxiety was not significant (path c’; b¼0.098, p¼0.189,
CI[0.245, 0.049]). In addition, the indirect effect of dispositional mindfulness on
post-intervention test anxiety through pre-intervention test anxiety was significant
(ab ¼0.361, CI[0.487, 0.258]; therefore, there is evidence that pre-intervention
test anxiety fully mediates the relationship between dispositional mindfulness and
post-intervention test anxiety (see Table 4 and Figure 2.2).
The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of mindfulness-based art
for test anxiety in adolescents. Specific objectives were to evaluate the effective-
ness of structured mandala colouring compared to free colouring for test anxiety
and state mindfulness in adolescents prior to a test, and to assess the role of
students’ pre-intervention mindfulness states and test anxiety in mediating rela-
tions between dispositional mindfulness and post-intervention state mindfulness
and test anxiety.
Pre TA
DM Post TA
(-.710)* (.508)*
(-.459)* (-.098)
Figure 2.2. The mediating effect of pre-intervention test anxiety in the association between
dispositional mindfulness and post-intervention test anxiety.
Notes: Standardized path coefficients are shown in parentheses. DM ¼dispositional mindfulness;
Pre SM ¼pre-intervention state mindfulness; Post SM ¼post-intervention state mindfulness; Pre
TA ¼pre-intervention test anxiety; Post TA ¼post-intervention test anxiety. N ¼193. *p <.001.
Table 4. Correlations between dispositional mindfulness, pre-intervention
test anxiety, and post-intervention test anxiety.
1. Dispositional mindfulness r1
2. Pre-intervention test anxiety r.50* 1
3. Post-intervention test anxiety r.39* .65* 1
n193 193
Carsley and Heath 13
Consistent with the elementary studies (Carsley et al., 2015; Carsley & Heath,
2018), participants in both conditions revealed significant decreases in test anxiety
pre–post-intervention, and significant increases in state mindfulness. These results
demonstrate that both activities are equally effective for test anxiety reduction and
further support findings from previously conducted elementary studies that both
activities can be considered as mindfulness-based art.
Although colouring structured mandalas has typically been defined as mind-
fulness-based colouring activities for anxiety reduction and promoted as such
throughout popular culture, free draw/colouring may also be considered as mind-
fulness-based or include mindfulness components, as youth are reporting increases
in state mindfulness following completion of both activities. These findings are
important for educators looking to reduce test anxiety in their classrooms through
mindfulness-based approaches, as a variety of simple colouring activities can be
potentially beneficial, and not solely the suggested mandala strategy.
Although both genders benefitted in terms of test anxiety reduction from the
mandala condition, females in the free condition reported greater decreases in test
anxiety compared to males in the free condition. These findings differ from the first
elementary study (Carsley et al., 2015), which found that males experienced greater
test anxiety reduction in the free condition while females only benefitted from the
mandala condition. A number of possible explanations might account for these
unexpected gender differences.
Throughout childhood, males experience slower development of fine motor
skills compared to females, which may make colouring structured mandalas
more challenging for males than free colouring; thus, males benefit more from
free colouring than the mandala (Hanlon, Thatcher, & Cline, 2000; Kail, &
Cavanaugh, 2015). During middle childhood, females’ fine motor skills are gener-
ally more developed than males and they are likely able to colour in the mandala’s
small shapes with greater ease than males, making the mandala effective for them at
this age. In adolescence, females may have reached a developmental period in
which they may no longer require the direction and intricacies of colouring in
structured mandalas to help them remain focused and aware; it is possible that
their more developed cognitive ability helps them create a mindfulness state from
free colouring. Furthermore, males are no longer lagging behind in fine motor
development during adolescence; they have essentially ‘caught up’ to their female
counterparts and can experience the benefits associated with mandala colouring as
well as free draw/colouring.
Anecdotally, the educators mentioned that mandala colouring clubs are held
after school, and students practice mindfulness through a variety of different
approaches during the year. Given the increased promotion of colouring mandalas
in the media, it is possible that females may be more familiar with mandala colour-
ing and engage in repeated practice, and the lack of novelty of the mandalas are
resulting in the free colouring being more effective. In line with the DCS theory,
participating in regular mindfulness activities can lead to skill acquisition and
eventual development of expertise in this developmental period (Roeser &
14 School Psychology International
Pinela, 2014; Roeser & Zelazo, 2012), and perhaps adolescent females are now able
to translate these skills from mindfulness activities to unstructured free
colouring. It would be important to assess students’ experiences with mandalas
to determine if this can impact their response to the intervention.
Another explanation––which builds on Carsley and Heath’s (2018) finding––
could be that personal preference might help determine who benefits from the
activities. Although females demonstrated greater reductions in test anxiety follow-
ing free drawing/colouring compared to males, decreases in test anxiety were still
found for males in the free, as well as the mandala condition. These results suggest
that the definition of an anti-stress or anti-anxiety activity might depend on stu-
dents’ preference and/or drawing ability. Given the lack of theoretical basis for
these gender differences, and the mixed findings in previously conducted studies,
replication of this study is required to assess the generalizability of the findings.
This study’s second objective was to determine if pre-intervention state mind-
fulness mediates the relationship between participants’ dispositional mindfulness
and post-intervention state mindfulness, and whether pre-intervention test
anxiety mediates the relationship between participants’ dispositional mindfulness
and post-intervention test anxiety. The relation between dispositional mindfulness
and post-intervention outcomes were fully mediated by baseline measures,
such that dispositional mindfulness’ benefits for post-intervention state mindful-
ness and test anxiety occurs through its effect on pre-intervention state mindfulness
and test anxiety.
In Carsley and Heath’s (2018) study, participants with higher dispositional
mindfulness demonstrated the highest possible levels of pre-intervention state
mindfulness and were thus unable to report increases in state mindfulness post-
intervention. The present study’s findings suggest that dispositional mindfulness
affects how participants respond to an intervention; if students report a general
tendency to be mindful day-to-day, they are already entering the intervention with
a certain baseline level of state mindfulness and associated lower test anxiety,
and these baseline reports are determining to some degree the extent of changes
in post-intervention state mindfulness or test anxiety.
If students with high dispositional mindfulness and high pre-intervention state
mindfulness or low pre-intervention test anxiety are not able to experience the ben-
efits of the intervention, it is important to determine if there is a benefit to including
mindfulness interventions for these students in educational settings. It would be
interesting to examine if there is a way to assess ‘deepening of’ or ‘enhancing’ mind-
fulness states, regardless of individual dispositions. As a result, students who already
maintain a general tendency to be mindful should in theory also be able to benefit
from ongoing mindfulness interventions, although this requires further investigation.
The current findings are promising and provide directions for future research;
however, this study is not without limitations. First, given that both colouring
activities were associated with decreases in test anxiety and increases in state mind-
fulness, the free condition may not be functioning as a control group. Future
research would benefit from including a third non-colouring condition, in which
Carsley and Heath 15
participants engage in an alternative activity to compare changes in test anxiety
and mindfulness to ensure the observed changes are not due to repeated measure-
ment effects. Second, although participants were from public schools in the city, the
schools in this sample have rigorous entrance requirements, thus the students are
unusually high achieving relative to general school samples. Given this convenience
sample and the original cross-sectional design developed by the researchers, further
replication is required with a diverse group of students representing a variety of
backgrounds. Third, given the increase in popularity of mindfulness colouring,
some students’ previous exposure to mandalas may have impacted their response
to the activity; future research should include a question acknowledging students’
previous experience with this activity. Finally, as mentioned in Carsley and Heath
(2018), the field struggles with how to measure mindfulness. To remain consistent
with the earlier work on pre-adolescent students, the state MAAS was employed as
a measure of state mindfulness; however, due to the finding that reports of pre-
intervention state mindfulness are explaining the relation between dispositional
mindfulness and post-intervention state mindfulness, it would be helpful to find
methods to assess ‘enhancing’ or ‘deepening of’ mindfulness for participants who
maintain strong general mindfulness tendencies.
Despite these limitations, this research provides important information for edu-
cators and future research on mindfulness activities for test anxiety with adoles-
cents. Both colouring activities demonstrate reductions in test anxiety and increases
in mindfulness; therefore, it would be helpful for educators to implement these
activities before a test. Although structured mandala colouring has been receiving
attention in the media and throughout popular culture as a mindfulness-based
activity for anxiety reduction, females reported greater decreases in test anxiety
from free colouring. As such, it may not be necessary to focus on colouring in
mandalas to experience benefits; adolescents, especially girls, may benefit equally, if
not more, from free colouring, which is accessible and easy to implement. These
activities may also be useful for students and teachers to implement during situa-
tions in which arousal or anxiety may be heightened in the classroom. Specifically,
teachers could include mindfulness colouring as a class routine or calming moment
when required. Given the high level of acceptability of this activity relative to other
mindfulness practices, it can be easily tolerated in larger classrooms, in addition to
individual sessions with school psychologists.
This activity is also feasible in different contexts where resources may be limited.
Unlike complex mindfulness interventions that require training, materials, and
greater time commitments, this research shows that simple mindfulness-based
activities can be effective, accessible, and integrated into a variety of international
contexts. Implementation of this mindfulness-based colouring activity requires no
training, minimal resources and tools, and is feasible to implement beyond privi-
leged school environments.
Given that pre-intervention state mindfulness and test anxiety explained rela-
tions between dispositional mindfulness and post-intervention state mindfulness
and test anxiety, it is important for future studies to address how to enhance
16 School Psychology International
mindfulness for students with high dispositional mindfulness. If educators
include mindfulness-based activities in their classrooms through a universal
classroom-based approach, it is important to ensure all students are provided
with opportunities to experience the associated benefits, regardless of individual
This study is the third study conducted in schools that demonstrates that free
colouring is an equally effective mindfulness-based activity for test anxiety com-
pared to structured mandalas in youth. Given the different findings in university
studies that mandalas are considered to be more effective for anxiety compared to
free colouring, it would be helpful to re-examine the effectiveness of these activities
in university students with an additional non-colouring control group to determine
if there is a difference between the three different developmental periods.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, author-
ship, and/or publication of this article.
Ethical approval
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with
the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the
1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication
of this article.
Informed consent
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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Author biographies
Dana Carsley, MEd, is currently a PhD candidate in Human Development at
McGill University in the Faculty of Education, Department of Educational and
Counselling Psychology. She is a also a Tomlinson Scholar and recipient of the
Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Doctoral Scholarship from the
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Dana has worked
as a teacher and special needs tutor for students at all levels. Her research focuses
Carsley and Heath 21
on classroom interventions to promote mental health, specifically teacher-led mind-
fulness and stress management programs. Her commitment to enhancing student
well-being has resulted in 10 publications related to mental health in schools and
30+ presentations at academic and practitioner conferences and community out-
reach workshops.
Nancy L. Heath, PhD, is a James McGill Professor in the Department of
Educational and Counselling Psychology at McGill University. Her research cen-
ters on understanding and enhancing intrapersonal resilience in youth and young
adults with a focus on factors related to emotion regulatory processes. She has
published and presented extensively in this area and more broadly on issues per-
taining to mental health in schools. Professor Heath conducts both basic and
applied research, always with a strong knowledge translation and service emphasis.
She has worked for over 25 years in partnership with schools to address mental
health concerns in the schools.
22 School Psychology International
... Recent interventions to reduce test anxiety among adolescents have found some success at reducing anxiety using internet-based programmes (Putwain, Chamberlain, Daly, & Sadreddini, 2014), expressive writing tasks (Shen, Yang, Zhang, & Zhang, 2018), structured Mandala coloring (Carsley & Heath, 2018), and an auditory training technique (AAT) consisting of differentially attending to prerecord auditory stimuli for approximately 12 min, regardless of internal experiences that may become present (Fergus & Limbers, 2019). Two of these, structured mandala coloring and AAT have been linked to controlling attention. ...
... A further criticism of much of the research in this area, both on test anxiety and mindfulness, is that interventions have often failed to include an active control group. Therefore, in the current study, the effectiveness of spending 12 min free coloring will be compared to structured mandala coloring (as used by Carsley & Heath, 2018), with and without mindfulness-based instructions. These activities were chosen as although Carsley and Heath found structured mandala coloring successfully increased state mindfulness and decreased test anxiety, this finding has not been replicated (Mantzios & Giannou, 2018). ...
... The coloring interventions involved either a plain A4 piece of paper for the free drawing condition or a piece of A4 paper with a mandala design, as used by Carsley and Heath (2018) and Mantzios and Giannou (2018), for the mandala conditions. In all condition's, participants were equipped with 10 different colored pencils and a pair of headphones. ...
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Test anxiety is prevalent among adolescents. Some potentially successful mindfulness‐based coloring interventions have been identified in previous research, however, conclusions have been based on self‐report measures only. In the current study, 150 17‐ to 18‐years‐olds taking final school exam completed measures of state anxiety (STAI) and Mindfulness (SMS) prior to and directly after completing 12 min of either (1) free drawing, (2) mandala coloring, (3) mandala coloring paired with pre‐recorded mindfulness instructions. Heart rate (HR) was recorded prior to and directly after the 12‐min coloring intervention. Lay abstract: Many adolescents feel anxiety about final school examinations, this can have a negative effect of their performance. Mindfulness‐based colouring had been found to help reduce this anxiety for some adolescents. The current study looked at whether mindfulness instruction, alongside the colouring activity, could improve its effectiveness at reducing anxiety in 17‐ and 18‐year‐olds preparing for their final school exams.
... There is novel evidence, however, that the length of mindfulness-based interventions does not impact the intervention's effectiveness; shorter interventions may be just as efficacious as longer alternatives for reducing ADHD symptomology (Vekety et al., 2021). Engagement in just one session of a mindful activity (i.e., mindful coloring) is associated with increased mindfulness (Carsley and Heath, 2018). Despite this initial evidence, there has not been enough rigorous research conducted (e.g., studies using active control groups and an adequate sample size) to make definitive commentary about how acute mindfulness meditation affects children and youth with ADHD (Chimiklis et al., 2018;Tercelli and Ferreira, 2020;Vekety et al., 2021). ...
... This study also adds to the literature assessing how mindfulness-based interventions affect children and youth with ADHD. Specifically, our findings converge with the research that has determined acute mindfulness-based interventions can enhance aspects of functioning (e.g., Luu and Hall, 2017;Carsley and Heath, 2018;Edwards et al., 2018). It uniquely contributes to the literature, however, by experimentally demonstrating that key aspects of executive functioning (i.e., inhibitory control and working memory) can be supported in children and youth with ADHD after engaging in just one mindfulness meditation session. ...
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This study investigated how acute exercise and mindfulness meditation impacts executive functioning and psycho-emotional well-being in 16 children and youth with ADHD aged 10–14 (male = 11; White = 80%). Participants completed three interventions: 10 min of exercise, 10 min of mindfulness meditation, and 10 min of reading (control). Before and after each intervention, executive functioning (inhibitory control, working memory, task-switching) and psycho-emotional well-being (mood, self-efficacy) were assessed. Mindfulness meditation increased performance on all executive functioning tasks whereas the other interventions did not (d = 0.55–0.86). Exercise enhanced positive mood and self-efficacy whereas the other interventions did not (d = 0.22–0.35). This work provides preliminary evidence for how acute exercise and mindfulness meditation can support differential aspects of executive and psycho-emotional functioning among children and youth with ADHD.
... While this method has limitations for psychological practice and the implementation of psychological approaches (Shean, 2014), it is ideal for determining research effectiveness (Hariton & Locascio, 2018). Some RCTs have demonstrated the potential benefits of MBIs for the alleviation of stress, anxiety, and depression, and for the well-being of children and adolescents in school settings (Carsley et al., 2018;Lin et al., 2019), while others found no significant differences compared to treatment-asusual (TAU) in terms of stress , anxiety (Anila & Dhanalakshim, 2016), and depression (Johnson et al., 2017) among these populations. ...
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Objectives Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) are being increasingly used toward improving mental health. Previous studies reached inconsistent conclusions regarding the effects of MBIs on the well-being and psychological distress of children and adolescents. Therefore, we conducted a meta-analysis summarizing the effects of MBIs on the well-being and psychological distress (i.e., anxiety, depression, and stress) of children and adolescents.Methods We searched electronic databases for reports on randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published until November 2020. Random effects models were used to calculate the overall effect size of each outcome variable for all participants. Subgroup and meta-regression analyses were conducted for categorical and continuous variables, respectively.ResultsA total of 28 RCT studies (48 independent samples), comprising 7943 participants, were included in the final synthesis. The MBIs had a small effect on anxiety (g = 0.39), depression (g = 0.28), and stress (g = 0.30), and no significant effect on well-being. Subgroup analyses showed intervention time, mindfulness type, control type, and intervention population to be significant moderators. However, meta-regression analyses indicated that effect sizes were not moderated by intervention duration or study quality.Conclusions Our results confirmed MBI to be an alternative intervention for reducing psychological distress among both children and adolescents. The development and application of a shorter MBI, adapted for adolescents, could be addressed in future studies.
... However, only several studies have examined whether mandala drawing art therapy can increase mindfulness, spirituality, and SWB. The little literature that exists currently does indicate that mandala drawing can increase young people's mindfulness (Carsley and Heath, 2018), increase the spirituality of nursing staff (Yilmaz et al., 2018), and have a positive effect on SWB (Shiah and Hwang, 2019). Therefore, the objective of this study is to verify whether mandala drawing can increase mindfulness, spirituality, and SWB from a positive perspective. ...
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Mandala drawing was first practiced by Tibetan buddhists and then developed by Carl Gustav Jung, who felt certain that mandala drawing has the function of integrating psychological division, enhancing psychological harmony, and preserving personality integrity. Previous studies on mandala drawing have mainly focused on alleviating people’s negative emotions, such as anxiety and depression. Therefore, this study explored the effect and mechanism of mandala drawing on the improvement of subjective well-being (SWB), mindfulness, and spirituality from positive psychology’s viewpoint and compared the different effects of cooperative mandala drawing (CMD) and individual mandala drawing (IMD) on mindfulness, spirituality, and SWB. A total of 76 students were recruited from Chang Gung University, and the aforementioned three main variables were measured before and after the coloring experiment. The results indicated that both CMD and IMD significantly enhanced the subjects’ spirituality. Compared with IMD, CMD has a more significant improvement and promotion effect on SWB of subjects by affecting PA, while IMD had no significant effect on PA, and the enhancement effect of SWB was weaker than that of CMD. Mindfulness, spirituality, and SWB all positively correlated with each other. This study highlights the mechanism of mandala drawing and the theoretical understanding of the relationship between mindfulness and SWB. Mandala drawing especially CMD has a positive effect on spirituality and SWB, which may provide individuals with a simple and easy method to improve their happiness.
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Anxious and depressive symptoms are highly prevalent in school-aged youth and can lead to a multitude of negative outcomes. School-based mindfulness interventions may be able to target gaps in evidence-based treatments for anxious and depressive symptoms. The current meta-analysis aimed to synthesize the literature of school-based mindfulness interventions that target anxious and depressive symptoms in youth and to compare the effectiveness of these interventions with active and waitlist control groups. Overall small significant effect sizes were found for these interventions for both anxious symptoms and depressive symptoms, though they were not significantly different from the aggregated effect sizes of the active control groups or the waitlist control groups, suggesting that mindfulness interventions may not provide additional benefits for these internalizing symptoms. Moderator analyses found that interventions delivered to elementary students yielded significantly higher rates of change than interventions delivered to high school students, but there were no differences when comparing the level or implementer of intervention. Overall, the findings of this meta-analysis highlight a critical need to better define what constitutes a “mindfulness intervention” and call into question the effectiveness of those currently being implemented to address youth anxiety and depression in school settings.
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A lot has been written with regards to the subject of anxiety and its role in influencing learning outcomes yet it seems the issue of anxiety is continuously debated by research and academic scholars. While teachers may think that issues of anxiety in education are either overhyped or overemphasized, learners think otherwise. To analyze the views of the preservice teacher on the concept of test anxiety especially on its influence on the academic performance of students, a mixed research design was adopted for this study. An experimental approach followed by semi-structured interviews were used to elicit information on the impact of test anxiety on academic performance. A total of 42 participants were purposively chosen which were divided into 2 groups, A (control group) and B (experimental group). A reliable and validated post-test was administered where there was induced stress on the experimental group before commencing an examination. The findings of this study argued that though test anxiety affected students' test scores to a large extent, other possible factors were responsible for learner's test scores as well. The study suggests the need for rethinking ways through which examinations are organized to reduce the incidence of test anxiety among test takers. The major limitation of the study was the small sample size. Thus, the use of a larger sample for future researches must be considered.
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Background and objectives: Cognitive–behavioral interventions have been shown to be effective treatments for test anxiety. Studies on school-aged populations, however, are lacking. Design and methods: In the present study we evaluated a six-session cognitive–behavioral intervention for test anxiety in a sample of secondary school students aged 14–16 years preparing for high-stakes examinations. Furthermore, we extended outcomes to include school-related wellbeing and clinical anxiety. A screening procedure was used to identify highly test anxious persons who were randomly allocated to intervention or wait-list control groups. Results: Test anxiety showed a large reduction following intervention compared to control group participants who showed a moderate reduction. Clinical anxiety showed a small to moderate reduction following intervention compared to control group participants who showed a negligible reduction. The reduction in clinical anxiety was mediated by concurrent reductions in test anxiety. Conclusion: This supports an integrative network approach that deactivating core aspects of anxiety can deactivate associated networks of anxiety symptoms. The intervention showed no impact on school-related wellbeing which increased at a similar rate for both intervention and control group participants. This is likely because test anxiety is just one contributor of many to school-related wellbeing. Implications for school-based treatments are discussed.
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Interest in applications of mindfulness-based approaches with adults has grown rapidly in recent times, and there is an expanding research base that suggests these are efficacious approaches to promoting psychological health and well-being. Interest has spread to applications of mindfulness-based approaches with children and adolescents, yet the research is still in its infancy. I aim to provide a preliminary review of the current research base of mindfulness-based approaches with children and adolescents, focusing on MBSR/MBCT models, which place the regular practice of mindfulness meditation at the core of the intervention. Overall, the current research base provides support for the feasibility of mindfulness-based interventions with children and adolescents, however there is no generalized empirical evidence of the efficacy of these interventions. For the field to advance, I suggest that research needs to shift away from feasibility studies towards large, well-designed studies with robust methodologies, and adopt standardized formats for interventions, allowing for replication and comparison studies, to develop a firm research evidence base. KeywordsMindfulness meditation-Children-Adolescents-Families-Schools
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The authors investigated the effectiveness of a mindfulness art activity compared with a free draw/coloring activity on test anxiety in children. The sample consisted of 152 students (50% female; Mage = 10.38 years, SD = 0.88 years) randomly assigned to a mindful (n = 76) or free (n = 76) group. Participants completed a standardized measure of anxiety and state mindfulness before and after the coloring activity, immediately before a spelling test, as well as a measure of dispositional mindfulness. Results revealed an overall significant decrease in test anxiety and an overall significant increase in state mindfulness following the interventions. Furthermore, although a significant negative correlation was found between dispositional mindfulness and change in state mindfulness pre- and post-coloring intervention, a significant positive correlation was found between dispositional mindfulness and pre-intervention state mindfulness, suggesting a possible ceiling effect. Explanations for these findings and implications for school personnel and future research are discussed.
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Mindfulness interventions have increasingly been incorporated in elementary and high school classrooms to support students’ mental health and well-being; however, there is little research examining the specific factors contributing to the effectiveness of the interventions. The purpose of this meta-analysis was to examine the specific effects of and moderators contributing to school-based mindfulness interventions for mental health in youth. A systematic review of studies published in PsycINFO, ERIC, Social Work Abstracts, Social Services Abstracts, and CINAHL was conducted. A total of 24 studies (n = 3977) were included in the meta-analysis. Overall, mindfulness interventions were found to be helpful, with small to moderate significant effects pre-post intervention compared to control groups (Hedges’ g = 0.24, p < .001); however, interventions that were delivered during late adolescence (15–18) and that consisted of combinations of various mindfulness activities had the largest effects on mental health and well-being outcomes. Furthermore, the effects on specific mindfulness and mental health outcomes differed according to whether the intervention was delivered by an outside facilitator compared to trained educators/teachers. These results suggest that individual differences and program characteristics can impact receptivity and effectiveness of mindfulness training. These findings represent a significant contribution as they can be used to inform future designs and applications of mindfulness interventions in the school setting.
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To evaluate the effectiveness of mindfulness-based structured versus unstructured coloring on test anxiety, 52 participants (53.8% female; Mage = 10.92 years, SD = .82) were randomly assigned to either a structured mandala (n = 26) or free coloring condition (n = 26), and completed a standardized anxiety measure to assess anxiety before and after coloring, immediately before a spelling test. Results revealed an overall decrease in anxiety for both groups. However, a significant gender by group interaction demonstrated that while both genders experienced anxiety reduction in the mandala condition, males reported a greater anxiety reduction in the free coloring condition while females only benefited from the mandala condition. Possible explanations for these gender effects are explored and future directions discussed.
The relationship between anxiety and impaired academic performance has been well documented by a number of investigators (Tyron, 1980; Hill & Wigfield, 1984; Topp, 1989; Sud & Sharma, 1990; Zeidner, 1990; Zoller & Ben-chain, 1990). Everyone should feel somewhat anxious before they begin to take a test. Anxiety becomes a problem when it begins to interfere with a student’s ability to think logically or remember facts. Examination anxiety (test-anxiety) is a common and frequently debilitating condition characterized by intense fear of evaluation in performance situations (Jefferys, 1997). It has an early onset (Otto et al., 2001) and regularly precedes other anxiety, mood, and substance dependence disorders (Lampe et al.,. 2003). Examination anxiety is associated with significant distress and functional impairment in both work and social domains (Lochner et al., 2003) and typically persists unless treated (Clark & Wells, 1995). The early onset of test-anxiety .magnifies its impact, including increased school dropout (Van Ameringen et al., 2003), poor social integration, and increased comorbid psychopathology (Lampe et al., 2003).
This study investigated the relative influence on test anxiety of academic self-concept, cognitive interference, academic achievement, and study skills, with 82 adolescents with learning disabilities and behavior disorders who were enrolled in a small, private, special education day school. Subjects completed various measures of anxiety, academic performance, and other assessments; and correlation and stepwise multiple-regression procedures were used to analyze the data. Results showed a significant positive relationship between test anxiety and cognitive interference and a significant negative relationship between test anxiety and study habits. Cognitive interference was the most powerful predictor of test anxiety.
Background Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) are increasingly used in the management of various mental health disorders in children and adolescents. However, there is limited evidence about the efficacy of various interventions used.MethodA systematic review was performed to examine the effects of different MBIs on mental health symptoms and quality of life in both clinical and nonclinical samples of children and adolescents using data from only randomized control trials. The studies were also assessed for quality. Based on the type of MBI, study population, and control arm we had three comparisons for meta-analyses.ResultsFifteen studies were included in the qualitative analysis but only 11 trials with comparable interventions and controls were included for meta-analyses. Mindfulness-based stress reduction/mindfulness-based cognitive therapy arm was more effective than nonactive control in the nonclinical populations. Acceptance commitment therapy was comparable to active treatments in patients in the clinical range. Other MBIs were also effective improving anxiety and stress but not depression in nonclinical populations compared to nonactive control.Conclusions Mindfulness-based interventions can be effective in children and adolescents with mental symptoms. As there were significant limitations these results must be interpreted with caution.