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University Faculty's Response to Student Loss by Death or Romantic Break-up

by Dietz, Sarah E.

Abstract (Summary)
Coping with a significant loss is an issue that many college students will encounter while in an environment not conducive to the mourning process. As an institution that plays a large role in students academic and personal growth, universities need to be made aware of the unique challenges bereaved students face. This study was designed to assess university faculty response to and awareness of loss in college students. Types of loss assessed were the death of a family member, the death of a boyfriend, and the break-up of a 3 month or 3 year relationship. Faculty were recruited from four Pennsylvania universities via email; 533 responded to a fictitious case by completing an on-line questionnaire. As expected, the type of loss, length of relationship, and type of relationship all contribute to the degree of support given to the griever. As far as faculty accommodations, the student experiencing the death of her brother received the most academic accommodations, followed by the student who lost her boyfriend by death. The student experiencing a romantic break-up was less accommodated. The faculty viewed the student going home to be with her family or having time off from school to deal with her emotions as most important if the student suffered the death of her brother. However, they perceived returning to normal school responsibilities as most important for the student experiencing a break-up of a 3 month relationship. The majority of respondents indicated that they did not have a pre-established policy regarding student loss. When asked about expectations for the student returning to normal functioning, the most frequent choice for a student experiencing a death was 1 to 2 months. The findings of this study indicate a great deal of variability in how student losses are managed by faculty members. Faculty members must be made aware of the impact losses can have on students so they can begin to develop policies and practices that provide an environment that encourages student success.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Indiana University of Pennsylvania

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis

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ISBN:

Date of Publication:08/07/2008

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