Calm with Kalaa Reduces Stress - Proven Statistically Significant (of MHS Freshman)
Updated: Aug 15, 2019
Written by - Shruti Parthasarathy
Since 2018, I have been leading workshops as a part of Calm with Kalaa (CWK) regularly for the students apart of Middleton High School. In February of 2019, I began taking classes for students of the Foundations of Health (a required semester long freshman course). Currently, Calm with Kalaa has engaged with 236 freshman students. 194 students were asked in a survey to rate their level of stress on a 1-10 scale, before and after the workshop.
After reading numerous feedback forms (collected throughout my workshop), it has been increasingly evident that freshman students are unsure of ways to handle their burden of social and academic stressors - even at a small level. However, even small stressors can eventually accumulate and create lethal effects on our physical and mental well-being. Therefore, it became very important to me, personally, to teach ninth grade students ways to reduce the mental unrest caused by peers, social standards/expectations, academic dreams, etc.
As I taught each class, students were surprised that a topic as complex as Bharatanatyam had simple elements that they could apply to better their well-being. I absolutely loved watching the eyes of student gleam with joy whenever they completed several movements in a row! The enthusiasm in the room to learn more about my culture truly provided me with a sense of comfort and pride in my roots - a feeling I struggled to find for years. Furthermore, the emotional rush of watching students attempt, enjoy, and continue to use elements of Indian classical dance is purely indescribable! :)
Now, I wanted to see if the numbers agreed with the emotional excitement throughout the workshop. Throughout the workshop, I asked students to rank their level of stress before and after dancing on a 0-10 scale, where 0 is very relaxed and 10 is very stressed.
After coding the data, Dr. Victorson, the founder and principal investigator of the Consciousness in Health lab at Northwestern University, and I ran a significance test with to see if the change in reported stress levels is significant. We ran a t-test for non-normal data (Wilcoxon Signed Ranks test), where the null hypothesis stated there would be no difference in stress level or μ = 0 and my alternate hypothesis stated the difference would be negative/below zero (negative means the individual had a lower stress level after taking part in our Calm with Kalaa workshop than before the workshop) or μ < 0. I was unable to obtain a random sample as the students were apart of a required health course. Because of this, any conclusion of cause and effect is limited to be imposed only on all Freshman at Middleton High School rather than all Freshman students in the US. We found that there is statistically significant pre-post stress levels (p < .01). We have convincing evidence to suggest that the true mean difference of stress level before and after the workshop is negative. That is, the stress level of ninth graders decreased after taking part in my Calm with Kalaa workshops! In addition, we found that the magnitude of the effect size among the prep-post was very large (d=1.37). Furthermore, we can point to a possible causation between Calm with Kalaa's Indian classical dance movements and reduced levels of cognitive dissonance; this workshop is statistically significant and results are too strong to be explained by chance alone.