Courtney H. Guenther, Ph.D.




College of Arts and Sciences


Many undergraduate college students report high levels of anxiety, which can negatively impact their academic performance. Meditation is currently being explored as a method to reduce anxiety, with the duration and frequency under investigation to optimize outcomes. Therefore, this pilot study examined whether the severity of generalized anxiety disorder affected the influence of a brief, one-time, guided meditation on undergraduate academic performance. This study also investigated student perceptions of meditation and test anxiety. Students completed the GAD-7 to assess levels of anxiety, participated in a brief meditation, completed a lab quiz, and evaluated their meditation experience through a post-survey. We hypothesized that students with high GAD scores would perform similarly to those with low GAD scores on a quiz following a brief meditation. We also hypothesized that students with a more positive view of meditation would score higher on the quiz compared to those who did not find the meditation to be helpful. There was no significant difference in quiz scores based on anxiety level. Students who reported that the meditation reduced test anxiety and students who reported that they do not experience test anxiety tended to score better on the lab quiz. Even though there was not a statistically significant correlation between lab quiz scores and GAD-7 scores, there does appear to be a strong trend: as GAD-7 scores increase (higher anxiety), lab quiz scores decrease. This pilot study provides the foundation for future research exploring brief meditation on test anxiety in undergraduate students.