Mind wandering is a universal everyday experience that affects every university student. A voluntary or involuntary shift in attention draws the student from their current task to focus on internal trains of thought. In doing so, the negative effects on the task outcomes may affect study outcomes and the positive effects of focusing inward may affect personal development outcomes. The aim of this review is to understand the primary costs and benefits of mind wandering in relation to the individual student. This essay will analyse the methodology used in studies that find costs to educational outcomes and adaptive benefits of mind wandering. The role of meta-awareness and emerging evidence on the effectiveness of interventions to both reduce the frequency of mind wandering at inappropriate times, and increase the opportunities at suitable times, potentially minimise the costs and maximise the benefits. This essay will demonstrate it is possible that the potential benefits of mind wandering in university students surpass the potential costs.
Over the last two decades, most of the research in this field has focused on mind wandering as a mishap or cognitive control failure (Mooneyham & schooler 2013), investigating its negative effects on reading, attention and aptitude (Mrazek et al. 2013). These negative effects, measured against the external standards of speed and accuracy of cognitive processing, reading fluency, reading comprehension and sustained attention, provide a perspective from which it appears mind wandering is costly for the student (McMillan et al., 2013). However, as pointed out by Baird et al. (2012), that overloo...
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...ess. Additionally, the test measure on the SART indicated that with meta awareness there were less errors. This study explicitly validated evidence of the previously disputed neural recruitment in mind wandering by using the triangulation method of combining neuro imaging with self-reports and the behavioural measures of brain function (Christoff et al., 2009). Equally importantly, these findings specifically relate to university education, and depending on alignment of personal goals, could augment educational goals, and the attainment of better educational outcomes. Furthermore, the more mindful or meta aware a student, the less mind wandering, providing enhanced focus and less errors (Christoff et al., 2009), thus indicating that mindfulness may help lessen the very problems that mind wandering presents to educational outcomes (Mooneyham and schooler).
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