Date of Award

January 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

John-Paul Legerski


Based on research associating mindfulness with improvements in well-being, attention, and memory processes, brief mindfulness exercises may be helpful in enhancing the encoding of novel semantic information. A Swahili-English word pair association task was used to examine whether engaging in a brief mindfulness exercise enhanced the encoding of Swahili-English word pairs, thus improving long-term recall. Participants recruited from the undergraduate population at a Midwestern university were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: engaging in a 20 minute body scan meditation, a 45 minute body scan meditation, or a control group prior to learning Swahili-English word pairs. Separate analyses of variance were conducted for number of words recalled, changes in state anxiety scores, and state mindfulness scores. Results showed significantly more words recalled by members of the 20 minute group compared to members of the control group. Although there were more words recalled by the 45 minute group members when compared to the control group, it was not a statistically significant difference. Self-reported mean levels of state mindfulness were significantly higher after the meditation exercise for the 20 and 45 minute groups compared to the controls. None of the groups showed significant changes in mean levels of self-reported state anxiety on measures collected before and after the meditation exercise. Some preliminary evidence of gender effects was found for both recall and state mindfulness, but more research is needed with a larger representation of

male students to strengthen the conclusions that might be drawn from these gender-specific findings.