RODS II” – Project and study on the practice of mindfulness during studies at the Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences

Project study on the effectiveness of mindfulness practice at individual and team level on health and student performance

1. Project procedure

Start April 2018 – End March 2019


2. Project content and objective

In an information and knowledge society, mental resources and competencies are increasingly decisive for the success and health of people – they are the basis and source of success for successful work and a healthy lifestyle. On the other hand, excessive psychological stress leads to discomfort, motivational disorders, loss of performance and health problems¹. A recent study by the German Centre for Higher Education and Science Research (DZHW)² complains that the drop-out rate is clearly too high and diagnoses that students are often overtaxed. Particularly alarming are the findings at the universities of applied sciences. “The Universities of Applied Sciences would do well to devote themselves intensively to this problem. (Ulrich Heublein, DZHW Director of Studies).

The RODS II – Team project aims to reduce students’ stress and improve their resilience skills by teaching mindfulness practice at the individual and team level, thus enabling them to use and expand their existing mental resources. The effects of mindfulness practice to increase resilience and thus health and performance have already been sufficiently proven in the medical and operational context³. The project RODS II – Team aims at a significant improvement of the study achievements and in particular a reduction of the dropout rate. Furthermore, the students’ self-management skills, communication between students and teaching staff and the learning atmosphere and learning culture are to be improved. The RODS II – Team project wants to deepen first promising findings from a smaller pilot study RODS I (Resiliente Organisation des Studium – Achtsamkeit als neue Kompetenzdimension im Studium der BWL) and systematically expand them by working with other student groups. On the other hand, the project wants to test the practice of mindfulness not only on the individual level, but also on the team level in everyday study and analyze its effectiveness. The Resilienzforschung⁴ shows that certain qualities in team and group work are capable of reducing stress disorders and illnesses among team members. Besides straight Resilienz and efficiency in team structures are a central requirement in the modern working life.

3. Execution

Embedded in various modules of the Online Communication, Business Administration and WING degree programs, students take part in the “RODS: Mindfulness Students” and “RODS: Mindfulness Team” modules in the 2018/ 2019 winter semester. The contents and instructions for the exercises are taught by the mindfulness trainer Helmut Aatz from the 3P Institute in Freiburg, who is commissioned by the participating departments as a lecturer. The students will be supervised and accompanied by the professors participating in the project and the scientific assistants. The module concludes with a “normal content examination” which has nothing to do with the mindfulness module and is awarded 5 CP.

The study is multidisciplinary and is carried out in the three departments Media (online communication), Electrical Engineering (WING) and Business Administration (BWL). In the module in which the RODS module is embedded, students are divided into three groups (20 – 30 students each) by lot. The first group receives an individual RODS training, the second group a group RODS training and the third group acts as a control group. Upon request, the control group should have access to online material after the study has been completed.

The measurement of mental resources / resilience is carried out using several quantitative evaluation sheets, which are distributed at three points in time and completed by the students.

4. Project participants

Project participants from the university are Prof. Dr. Werner Stork (FB Wirtschaft) and Prof. Dr. med. Silke Heimes (FB Media). They are complemented by the four student assistants Fabienne Schleunung (FB Media), Maximilan Rasch (FB Wirtschaft), Stella Brug (FB Wirtschaft) and Saskia Hein (FB Media). Helmut Aatz will conduct the MBSR courses with the students. The team will be strengthened by Susanne Ocker and Paul Hoffmann, whose final theses (Master’s & Bachelor’s thesis) deal with the RODS project.

The project RODS II – Team is embedded in the research and project program RODA – Resiliente Organisation der Digitalen Arbeit am Fachbereich Wirtschaft.

The project is carried out and supported by the institutes IKUM (Institute for Communication and Media) at the FB Media and ZNWU (Center for Sustainable Economic and Business Policy) at the FB Economy; it is assigned to the h_da Research Center DKMI.

5. Project after project completion

The results of the RODS II – Team project will be incorporated into the teaching of the participating professors. In addition, suitable general measures for improving resilience and student performance through elements of mindfulness practice are to be developed through coordination with the dean’s offices. The mindfulness modules are also to be further developed and adapted for this purpose. If possible, a further study will take place after the RODS II project has been completed in which the results of the previous study will be incorporated.

Furthermore, after completion of the study, the Techniker Krankenkasse will set up a special offer for students, which will be free of charge for the students. Talks are currently taking place with the Techniker Krankenkasse. These measures are intended to contribute in the long term to reducing the drop-out rate at Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences.


1 Vgl. Umfrage der Techniker Krankenkasse aus dem Jahr 2015: Techniker Krankenkasse (2015): TK-CampusKompass. Umfrage zur Gesundheit von Studieren-den. Techniker Krankenkasse (Hg.); Hamburg. (TK-Studie zur Gesundheit und Mediennutzung von Studierenden) Online verfügbar unter:; abgerufen am 12.05.2018

2 Heublein et al. (2017). Zwischen Studienerwartungen und Studienwirklichkeit, Ursachen des Studienabbruchs, beruflicher Verbleib der Studienabbrecherinnen und Studienabbrecher und Entwicklung der Studienabbruchquote an deutschen Hochschulen. (Forum Hochschule 1|2017). Hannover: DZHW. Online verfügbar unter: 201701.pdf; abgerufen am 12.05.2018

 3 Vgl. Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 84 No. 4, 822–848
Vgl. Goldin, P.R.; Gross, J.J. (2010): Effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) on Emotion Regulation in Social Anxiety Disorder. Emotion, 10(1), 83-91.
Vgl. Grossman, P. (2007): Mindfulness Training as an Intervention for Fibromyalgia:. Evidence of Postintervention and 3-Year Follow-up Benefits in Well-Being. Psychother Psychosom, 76(4), 226-233.
Vgl. Altner, N. (2017). Studienergebnisse zu Wirkeffekten und Wirkzusammenhängen ein aktueller Überblick. Universität Duisburg Essen; Kliniken Essen-Mitte Naturheilkunde und Integrative Medizin.
Vgl. Davidson,R.J. et al.. (2003): Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Psychosomatic Medicine, (65), 564-570.
Vgl. Zeidan, F. (2015) The Neurobiology of Mindfulness Meditation. In: Brown, K.W., Creswell, J.D. & Ryan, R.M. (eds). Handbook of Mindfulness: Theory, Research, and Practice. New York: Guilford Press 2015; 171-189
Vgl. Creswell, J.D. et al. (2014). Brief mindfulness meditation training alters psychological and neuroendocrine responses to social evaluative stress. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 44 No. 1
4 Vgl. Endreß, M. & Maurer, A. (2015). Resilienz im Sozialen. Theoretische und empirische Analysen
Vgl. Hörner, J. & Kuczewski, A. (2016). Teamarbeit und psychische Resilienz. Wahrnehmung der Probleme in Teams und Stärkung von Resilienz.