Institute of HeartMath Education Applications

Education Applications: Performance

Academic Performance

One of the greatest gifts human beings possess is an immense capacity for learning and it is our philosophy at the Institute of HeartMath that exploring how we learn and finding new ways to enhance that ability and constantly kindle it in young and old, regardless of capability, is a sacred and ceaseless undertaking.

Helping students at all levels improve academic performance is a central focus of researchers at HeartMath. Many years ago, they set out to verify scientifically what each of us knows from experience – our own and observing others – that academic performance suffers when we feel agitated, anxious, fidgety or depressed. It stands to reason that performing at your highest level on tests, writing term papers or in other academic tasks can be difficult during such emotional states. In contrast, it makes sense the student who is calm, focused and in good spirits is much more likely to perform better.

After years of investigation, researchers discovered the existence of a measurable physiological state that enables optimal learning and performance. When your emotions are calm and your brain, nervous system and other bodily systems are in harmony, you are highly in sync – physically, mentally and emotionally. This synchronization facilitates the higher cognitive processes, which are critical for focusing attention, reasoning and creativity, all of which are at the heart of learning and superior academic performance. Employing its extensive investigations into the physiology of learning, the IHM Research Division has developed programs, tools and technology that have been scientifically tested and proven to enhance how we learn.

Facts at a Glance:

The Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS) issued a report in 2007 for the Education Consumers Foundation titled Effective Schools, Common Practices: Twelve Ingredients of Success from Tennessee’s Most Effective Schools. The report was compiled from data gathered at a total of six consistently top-performing elementary and middle schools. Here are the 12 ingredients:

  1. Educators gauge student progress on preparing for required state achievement testing with supplemental assessments that allow learner feedback and fine-tuning of instruction.
  2. Students must meet higher-than-minimum mastery on progress tests.
  3. Practice-intensive learning activities are used to target skills required in examinations.
  4. Principals receive frequent reports of student progress toward meeting state curriculum standards.
  5. Teachers receive frequent reports on each student’s progress.
  6. Students are not permitted to quietly fail. Teaching practices adjusted where necessary.
  7. Principals, colleagues and student progress data are continuously used to assess teacher effectiveness.
  8. Principals and other teachers routinely work with struggling colleagues to improve their skills.
  9. Principals obtain supplemental budgetary support to improve teacher performance.
  10. Schools regularly inform parents about children’s performance and seek their help with underperformers.
  11. Schools survey parents at least annually to assess satisfaction with services.
  12. Schoolwide programs reward positive social and academic behavior. Principals monitor program success and collect data on number and type of student referrals for problem behavior.

Click here for a PDF of the full report.

Who Needs HeartMath Research-Based Programs?

  • Students of all ages
  • Teachers who must teach for and administer mandated tests
  • Parents of students in grades 2-12
  • School principals and other administrators and personnel

How HeartMath Supports Excellent Academic Performance

Over the years, people have looked to the Institute of HeartMath for effective ways of motivating and enhancing learning for students of all ages, so IHM has developed effective learning programs, materials and technology to help students, teachers and other educators make the learning experience engaging and rewarding within and outside the classroom.

Utilizing the findings on how we learn and after consulting with educators nationwide, HeartMath’s Development Division has designed supplemental learning programs and products that are evidence based and scientifically tested to help bridge emotions and academics for student success.

Students learn how to use emotional awareness to get in sync and stabilize the brain’s electrical activity. This stabilization results in cortical facilitation, which is associated with improved comprehension, memory recall and the ability to solve problems, all skills that produce positive test results and improved learning ability. These programs and products also are designed to support teachers, school administrators and parents, each of whom is vital to successful academic performance.

IHM Research Publications and Articles Related to Academic Performance

  • Students experienced major reductions in test anxiety and large improvements in test performance in the U.S. Department of Education-funded TestEdge® National Demonstration Study (TENDS), conducted by researchers at IHM in collaboration with faculty and graduate students at Claremont Graduate University. Read the Full Summary of the TestEdge Study.
  • Improving Test-Taking Skills & Academic Performance in High School Students Using HeartMath Learning Enhancement Tools, by Rollin McCraty, Dana Tomasino, Mike Atkinson, Pam Aasen and Stephanie J. Thurik. High school seniors who received three weeks of training in HeartMath learning enhancement skills demonstrated substantial improvements in test scores and passing rates on state-required math and reading tests. Students also exhibited significant reductions in hostility, depression and other key indicators of psychological distress after learning and practicing HeartMath tools. Read more about the study.
  • In an independent study of HeartMath techniques in an educational setting, educational psychologist Dr. Edie Fritz was charged with helping a small group of struggling fifth- and sixth-grade special education students, most with behavioral and/or academic problems, at an inner-city elementary school in Phoenix. They were placed in her three-week summer class so she could try to help many of them advance to the next grade level. Read the results of Dr. Fritz’ efforts.

Click here for a wide range of articles and research related to academic performance.

Products and Programs for Improving Academic Performance

  • TestEdge® Grades 3-5 Teacher’s Kit: As children in the formative school years learn how their emotions and attitudes affect their schoolwork, they gain important skills that build a strong foundation for successful academic performance throughout their school careers. That’s why HeartMath’s emphasis on managing emotions is especially suited for this age level. With the increasing focus on preparing students for high-stakes testing, it is essential these children develop confidence early to meet the challenges that await them. TestEdge is a science-based supplemental program that can help students overcome discouragement and build that confidence by improving learning readiness, attitudes, behavior, listening and focusing skills and developing the test-taking abilities they need in all grade levels. Go to: TestEdge Grades 3-5 Teacher’s Kit.
  • TestEdge® Grades 6-8 Teacher’s Kit: The middle school years can be unsettling as adolescents go through natural physical, emotional and mental changes as they approach adulthood. There can be many distractions away from the business of academic learning as students grapple with the onset of puberty and adjust to new schools, classroom structures, multiple teachers and changing dynamics among peers. Providing engaging ways to boost academic performance and interest in learning is vital and that is how HeartMath has been able to positively influence thousands of youngsters. This scientifically developed learning program includes the Stress Smarts positive emotion-refocusing techniques that have been proven to lower stress and test anxiety and increase focus and comprehension; Test Smarts, which teaches advanced test-taking skills and strategies for achieving higher test scores; and Fact Smarts, which focuses on subject knowledge and math and reading comprehension. Go to: TestEdge Grades 6-8 Teacher’s Kit.
  • TestEdge® Grades 9-12 Teacher’s Kit: As students mature, the tests they take become more challenging and the results more important. There is pressure to establish a personal record of academic excellence. Couple that with pressures from family, peers and other sources, and the life of the high school student can be overwhelming some of the time and demanding most of the time. The scientifically validated TestEdge supplemental classroom program can be a tremendous aid because it gives students tools they can use to reduce the dread of taking tests and increase their focusing and comprehension skills during high-stakes tests. These tools are easy to use and integrate effortlessly into regular curriculums. Go to: TestEdge Grades 9-12 Teacher’s Kit.
  • TestEdge® Interactive CD Learning Program 6-8: TestEdge® can transform your test-taking experience and help you pass standardized tests. Understand how your emotions and attitudes are affecting your academic work. If learning or test-taking is stressing you, this program will help you get in sync for your best academic performance. This scientifically researched multimedia course teaches proven tools and strategies demonstrated to overcome test and performance anxiety, reduce discouragement, learning blocks and memory jammers, boost focus and clarity and promote positive feelings about school. Go to: TestEdge Interactive CD Learning Program 6-8.
  • TestEdge® Interactive Learning Program 9-12+: You can overcome test anxiety and learning blocks by understanding how your emotions and attitudes are affecting your schoolwork. If test-taking or learning is stressing you, you should try the heart-based education learning program that has students, teachers and parents talking about the uncomplicated, breakthrough methods of the HeartMath System. A controlled, U.S. Department of Education-funded study that included a range of high-performing to low-performing students found 75% had reduced anxiety – a key factor in poor test performance – after taking the TestEdge program. Students experienced less dread about taking tests and increased focus, comprehension and confidence during high-stakes tests. This TestEdge program includes five video lessons with actors and flash animations, interactive sessions and a review of key points. Go to: TestEdge Interactive Learning Program 9-12+.
  • emWave® Desktop for Mac and PC: This award-winning computer-based program shows students the effects of stress on their bodies by measuring the subtle changes in their heart rhythms. Students of all ages can learn how to intentionally shift to a positive emotional state and see how shifts in their heart rhythms create physiological responses. The emWave Desktop for Mac and PC, when combined with easy-to-learn HeartMath tools and techniques, can diminish stress, increase feelings of well-being and boost energy, positive states that will enhance learning and instill confidence and give students the power and skill to manage stress anytime. Go to: emWave Desktop for Mac and PC.
  • Qualified Instructor/Resilient Educator Programs: Time has shown it to be true and study after study confirms that there is no greater influence on academic performance than good teachers and that is why the Institute of HeartMath developed two important programs. The Qualified Instructor Program® is a train-the-trainer program designed for professional trainers, educators and consultants to provide HeartMath skills to teachers, administrators and other school staff. Those who complete the program are licensed to provide IHM workshops within educational settings in a cost-effective way. The first course offered under the program is the Resilient Educator®, an engaging, activity-based, stress-management workshop for in-service staff development. It can be given in a two-, four- or six-hour sessions. The Resilient Educator is a highly relevant program that helps educators boost performance, improve school relationships and strengthen resiliency. Learn more about the Qualified Instructor Program or the Resilient Educator Program.

Testimonials from Educators about Academic Performance Improvements

"The December test scores showed a 16% improvement in math scores, and we have received a number of very positive anecdotal comments from students who have participated in the pilot study. One student commented, ‘I think everyone should take this class because it doesn’t only help with test-taking, it helps with the stress of everyday living.’"

– Prudence Goodale, Assistant Superintendent, Stoughton Public Schools

"This is to call your attention to the educational programs of the Institute of HeartMath. The Institute has developed several innovative programs which we believe could be helpful to teachers in the district. Of particular note is HeartMath’s TestEdge program, which is designed to help students improve their scores on such high-stakes tests as the SAT, STAR and CAHSEE. In Minnesota, Texas and California, TestEdge has had a dramatic impact on students’ ability to perform up to their capacity on high school exit exams, thus increasing the number of students who graduate with a diploma."

– Kathy Lesley, Assistant Superintendent, Instructional Support Services, Los Angeles Unified School District

"The students made gains that were significant, because they represented one to two years’ growth in reading or math with only one month of preparation and instruction. This clearly shows that in teaching students how to use the HeartMath tools, they were able to reduce their test-taking anxiety and more accurately show us what they know."

– Stephanie J. Thurik, M.Ed., Secondary Reading Curriculum Specialist, Minneapolis Public Schools

"HeartMath offers the most effective techniques for helping students overcome their math anxiety that I have ever seen. After seeing big improvements in math test scores, students’ ability to better understand new concepts and students’ attitudes, I became real excited about the broader implications for these learning strategies. A real buzz has been created at our college campus and in surrounding schools. We look forward to a long relationship with HeartMath."

– Michael Vislocky, Ph.D., Math Department, University of Cincinnati Clermont College

Funding Tips for Educators:

  • Click here for links to information about a variety of federal, state and private educational funding sources for schools and districts interested in purchasing programs and products from the Institute of HeartMath.
  • Click here for information about the IHM Heart-Based Education Sponsorship Fund and to learn how you can apply to be a recipient.