Family Crisis

School of Family and Consumer Sciences
Fall and Summer Semesters
Instructor: David D. Witt, Ph.D.
This syllabus has clickable hyperlinks!

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CONTACTING THE INSTRUCTOR: The most reliable method for contacting the instructor is via email and through the Springboard Course Management System. Except in rare cases, students should use their UANet email accounts when communicating electronically. If for some reason, students must speak to the instructor via telephone or in person, I will have regular office hours and be at the phone (330) 972-6044 between 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday and Thursdays for this class.

COURSE CONTENT is accessed using this syllabus as the course outline. Links to online readings class notes appear below. Students may interact with each other using the class list email system but this is not required for the class. Students are encouraged to communicate with the instructor via email at anytime throughout the semester.

PURPOSE OF THE COURSE: This course is designed for the professional who will work with families, and who will have the opportunity to assist families in effectively coping with stress and crisis, through educational strategies. We will be studying family stress and crisis from a theoretical and practical point of view - including major theory groups, research and application of findings, and discussion of the effects on families of changing political climate.  Students receiving an "A" in the course will be able to:

  1. Identify theoretical models of family development and family crisis.
  2. Identify sources of stress and resources for coping in times of crisis.
  3. Describe stages of the family life cycle and crises associated with those stages.
  4. Recognize unique elements of crises experienced by culturally diverse families.
  5. Recognize the importance of maintaining a knowledge base of changes in political policy, legislation, and political climate.

GROUND RULES: Understanding the material in this course will take great effort on your part. Your regular attention to course material and readings, and your performance on assignments and exams is critical to your success as a student in an upper level course. Pay attention to the calendar and be especially prompt in submitting your written work on time through the Springboard Dropbox.  Submitting your work in a timely fashion for evaluation by the instructor of the class is the way student participation is assessed.

GRADES: Your final grade will consist of the following:

Examination Procedures: Each of your exams will consist of an array of essay questions, ranging in point value from 5 to 40 points each. These questions are derived from the online course material, and are intended to provide you with an opportunity to display your understanding of the material and illustrate your ability to apply the material to your own intended profession.  The pre-midterm, midterm and final examination questions are ready for your viewing (see "GRADES"above).


Students in this class have the ability to earn the grade they want by reading the examination instructions and responding accordingly. For example, according to the pre-midterm examination instructions:

 “Each question is worth 5 points, except for #7 which is a 10 pointer.  In terms of length, it is important that you are able, through your answer, to demonstrate your complete understanding of the concept in the question. In other words, a few sentences just won't do the trick. Half a page for each answer is likely a grade of C. Use complete sentences, and cite the online readings appropriately.”


I have provided some references for those class members interested in brushing up on the original sources.


Term Paper Instructions (Graduate Students Only): I expect your work to be a polished piece that reviews a single aspect of family crisis, or a theoretical point of view as it relates to families in crisis. It should be complete with the following “parts”:


  • Outline
  • Introduction (write this section last)
  • Main Body (containing comparisons and contrasts, or showing growth in the research area)
                     This is where you cite your sources in the text.
  • Conclusion (in which you evaluate your resources as a whole)
  • References Section.

Graduate students should speak to me individually about their projects. Generally graduate students have a 20 page minimum with 20 references. Papers should be carefully written to make a point, be double spaced, typewritten. The grading criteria for term papers are attached to the back of the syllabus.

Course Outline

Week 1 - Aug 28
Introduction to the Course
      Pre-midterm Questions

Week 2 - Sept 04  The Usefulness of Guiding Theoretical Assumptions

Week 3 - Sept 11 The Purpose of Theory in the Study of Family Crises

Week 4 - Sept 18 .... Five Major Theories- Structural Functional Theory and Family Crisis

Week 5 - Sept 25   PreMidterm Examination due week five before class in the dropbox.

Five Major Theories- Conflict Theories, Symbolic Interaction & Family Crisis

Week 6 - Oct 2
Five Major Theories - Social Exchange Theory and Developmental Theories

Week 7 - Oct 9 Integration of the Five Major Theories
and  Family Crises Defined- Hill's ABC->X Theory

Week 8 -Oct 16        
       Midterm Examination Tonight

       Final Exam Questions
       Reminder regarding term papers for graduate students

Week 9 - Oct 22 The Relationship Between the Economy & Family Crises

Week 10 - Oct 30 The Relationship Between Religion & Family Crises

Week 11 - Nov 6 The Relationship Between Education & Family Crises
      Term Papers Due Tonight

Week 12 - Nov. 13
The Relationship Between Government & Family Crises

Week 13 - Nov 20 The Relationship Between Technology & Family Crises

Week 14 - Nov 27 The Future of Families in the 21st Century

Week 15 - Dec 3 Review for Final Examination

Finals Week Final Examination due Dec. 11 by 5:00 PM

     All Work is due at the time of our Final exam.

Course Evaluations: Please take time to fill out the online evaluation for this course at