Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.

Author ORCID Identifier



Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

School Psychology

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Sara Whitcomb

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Early Childhood Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | School Psychology


This intervention study explored the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based social emotional learning program, Calmer Choice, on kindergarten students’ risk for social, academic, and emotional problems. The study used a quasi-experimental design with two measures collected as pretests and posttests for students in an intervention group and students in a wait-list control group. Kindergarten teachers completed the Social Academic Emotional Behavior Rating Scale (SAEBRS; Kilgus & von der Embse, 2014) and the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment-mini (DESSA-mini; Naglieri, LeBuffe & Shapiro, 2014) for each student at these two time points. The intervention, Calmer Choice, consisted of 16 lessons taught twice a week for eight weeks. Lessons, approximately 20 minutes in length, were taught by Calmer Choice instructors and included engaging activities and the practice of mindful awareness. Participants included 13 teachers, five instructors, and 214 students. Results indicated that there were no significant differences between groups, however, lessons were implemented with high treatment integrity, measured by observations of approximately one-third of lessons and by instructor’s checklists completed after each lesson. Qualitative results suggested high levels of teacher satisfaction. Teachers did not perceive any adverse effects and reported benefits in students as well as personal benefits from participating in the lessons. Limitations of this study are discussed, with implications for future research and suggestions for implementing mindfulness in early childhood.