Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Jill Mattuck Tarule


A compelling argument has been made which claims that institutions of higher education focus disproportionately on transmitting basic skills to their students at the expense of supporting issues of central importance to the development of emerging adults, including clarifying values and identity and defining individual purpose and meaning (Palmer & Zajonc, 2010). As a result, an increasing number of postsecondary teachers are considering how they can refashion education by using contemplative inquiry to deepen student learning and personal growth. This movement to reframe the teaching-learning paradigm has led to the development of teaching methods that seek to cultivate emotional, psychological and intellectual competencies including creativity, self-understanding, awareness and mental flexibility (Lief, 2007). Contemplative pedagogy, which can include mindfulness practices and contemplative or imaginative inquiry, provides such a framework for teaching and learning. Faculties at institutions of higher education across the U.S. are increasingly adapting this educational model for use in their classrooms.

The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand ways in which faculty members in higher education are developing mindfulness-based contemplative pedagogies and to identify critical variables that have informed how they have conceptualized and implemented this educational model. I employed a collective case study methodology to explore the experiences of faculty members who have embedded contemplative inquiry within the broader context of a traditional liberal arts curriculum. The study focused on why and how these instructors have developed contemplative teaching practices, their experiences integrating these practices into the classroom, and the potential outcomes they identified for themselves and their students. The findings suggest that, for these teachers, contemplative pedagogy provides a mechanism to deepen learning through a process of embodied inquiry in which both student and teacher are actively engaged. Through their teaching practices participants demonstrated a common goal: to foster in students qualities of mind that might help them engage more directly with learning as an experiential process of personal inquiry. This study informs the evolving landscape of contemplative education by exploring how teachers are developing and implementing contemplative models for learning in order to address issues of personal meaning and purpose in higher education.



Number of Pages

137 p.