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2017 Psychology grad Destany Calma-Birling has manuscript accepted for peer-reviewed publication

As first-generation college student Destany Calma-Birling graduated with her class on Saturday, May 13, 2017, she had quite a bit to reflect upon. The Psychology major recently had her manuscript “Does A Brief Mindfulness Intervention Impact Quiz Performance?” accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed journal Psychology Learning and Teaching, quite the prestigious accomplishment for an undergraduate.

In her research, Calma-Birling investigated if practicing mindfulness for the first five minutes of class would lead to noticeable improvements in students’ quiz performance. The participants in this study were students enrolled in two sections of an upper elective human development course. For six weeks, one class practiced mindfulness for the first five minutes class while the other class reviewed their course notes for the first five minutes of class. On the seventh and last week of the intervention, both groups practiced mindfulness for the first five minutes of class.

The results showed that students who engaged in a five-minute mindfulness practice performed significantly better on two post-lecture quizzes compared to students who reviewed their class notes, she said. Interestingly, when both groups practiced mindfulness, there was no significant difference in quiz scores, suggesting that five minutes of mindfulness practice closed the performance gap between the two groups’ post-lecture quiz scores. Overall, these findings are consistent with past research and demonstrate that small doses of mindfulness training can immediately benefit students’ learning.

“Destany showed great initiative, resolve and resilience in exploring this pertinent topic,” said Prof. Regan A. R. Gurung. “She worked tirelessly to design and run the study as well as writing it up for publication. She is the prototype of a driven student and has the potential to go far.”

“Having this paper accepted before graduation is very exciting and meaningful for me,” said Calma-Birling. “According to a few of my psychology professors, having a first author publication increases one’s chances of gaining admission into a good graduate program. This is particularly important because psychology PhD programs are becoming increasingly more competitive, and since my future aspirations involve getting a Ph.D. in psychology, the acceptance of this paper is great news for my future plans.”

Calma-Birling reflected on her experience in this 2017 Commencement video.

The Hawaii native moved to Wisconsin at the age of seven. After graduating from Appleton North High School, she attended UW-Fox Valley before transferring to UW-Green Bay. She says her decision to transfer to UW-Green Bay was in part due to the Psychology and Human Development programs. Her future plans entail completing a year of post-baccalaureate research and applying to graduate school where she is looking to study developmental affective neuroscience.