Campus Location

Abilene Campus (Residential)

Date of Award

Spring 5-2016

Document Type



Social Work

Degree Name

Master of Science

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Dr. Alan Lipps

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Dr. Wayne Paris

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Mr. Bart Herridge


This study examines the impacts of grief and bereavement among undergraduate students enrolled at Abilene Christian University. Research indicates that bereavement is a significant matter in the lives of no less than 40% of the students on the campus (Balk, 2008). Grief and bereavement affects students holistically, impacting their emotional, cognitive, physical, social, and spiritual/religious state. Because of these impacts, it is extremely important for university faculty and administration to recognize the frequency of grief on campus. It is crucial for the university to understand how to respond to students who are grieving to ensure that we retain students. To determine how students at ACU are affected by grief and bereavement, university engagement, and retention, a survey providing a holistic grief scale and supplemental questions was administered to all undergraduates. Results indicated strong relationships between scores on the Holistic Grief Scale and academic engagement variables (i.e., considering withdrawal from the university, missing classes, and a decrease in GPA). Implications include increasing efforts to identify, and offer various forms of support to, students who are experiencing grief-related academic issues. In essence, offering such support could have a significant effect on student retention.



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