Grading policy

97 - 100% = A+
93 - 96% = A
90 - 92% = A-
87 - 89% = B+
83 - 86% = B
80 - 82% = B-
77 - 79% = C+
73 - 76% = C
70 - 72% = C-
67 – 69% = D+
63 – 66% = D
60 – 62% = D-

< 59 = F


Points will be assigned to each component of the evaluation as follows:

Weekly reflections:  Undergrads 25%; Graduates 20%, Honors 20%

Weekly quizzes:  Undergrads 10%; Graduates 10%, Honors 10%
Self-study:  Undergrads 35%; Graduates 25%, Honors 30%
Class participation:  Undergrads 30%; Graduates 20%, Honors 25%
Book review:  Graduates 10%; Honors 15%

Meta-reflections:  Graduates 15%

Weekly reflections

Each week we will read several chapters and occasional journal articles that explore a particular topic in bereavement research and practice, some of which will convey theory and research, while others will focus on particular techniques of grief therapy.  In your weekly reflection papers, which should be submitted via the ecourseware system on the Sunday preceding  each class session, you will be asked to write approximately two pages of personal reactions, divided more or less equally into (1) an informed commentary on the scholarly research chapters, and (2) a report of your experience in "trying out" one of the techniques in the applied chapters in relation to a loss of your own.  Note that you do not have to disclose the loss itself or other sensitive information that you would prefer to keep private, but can instead address your reflections on how it was to use the method personally, and your reflections and observations on the usefulness of doing so.  For more guidelines on writing an effective reaction paper, please click the button below for a helpful download.

Weekly Quizzes

Drawing on the multiple choice questions submitted by students each week as well as our own items, we will construct and administer a weekly 10-item quiz covering the readings due that week.  This will help ensure that we all will have done the readings and have a basic understanding of the material as a common ground for class discussion.  Students whose questions are used will receive 1-point extra credit on the quiz for each question adopted, and will also benefit by the high likelihood that they will automatically get the question right!


At the final class session in November you will  be asked to submit a self-study, consisting of a 10-page integration of your weekly reflections, drawing on the various theories and research papers you have read throughout the semester.  You should include at least 6 different techniques that you have applied to losses in your own life, reflecting on such questions as the following:

  • What similar themes did I observe in my responses across the course of the semester?  What sorts of differences?
  • Did my feelings about exploring my losses change across the weeks, and if so, how?
  • Of the readings in theory and research, which most engaged me, and why?  Was there a particular theoretical perspective that especially spoke to me, and in what way?  How might I explain myself in the terms of this conceptual model?
  • Were there particular experiences in class (small group discussions, exercises, films, speakers) that stood out for me as making a strong impression?  If so, which, and why?
  • Were there particular techniques I applied to my own life that struck me as especially revealing or helpful in some way?  If so, how?
  • Were there any other students in particular who usefully deepened or challenged my thinking about grief and loss?  Who, and how?
  • How have I used this class to become more informed about grief as a dimension of human experience?  What are the three most important things I have learned in this class this semester?

Class participation

Even when we are not actively engaged in small group activities, your involvement in class discussion, engagement in small group exercises and your physical presence each week are essential for your own learning, and for that of other students (and instructors!) in our small community.  For this reason we will monitor your attendance in class, with full participation credit being given for students who miss no more than one session, and 5 points (out of 100 that constitute the total grade) being subtracted for each class session missed beyond one.  Quality and quantity of participation will be considered in making decisions about "rounding up" total grades to a higher level when students are on the threshold of a higher grade at the end of the term.

Book review (graduate and honors students only)

A publishable book review is itself a scholarly product, whose purpose is to inform other potential readers of the value of a particular volume by describing and fairly evaluating its content in crisp, well-written prose.  Book reviews can be completed on any professional book relevant to grief or loss published in the last two years that has been cleared with the faculty instructor, and should consist of 4-5 double-spaced pages of text, plus no more than three or four references (which are optional).  Numerous examples of such book reviews can be found in the pages of Death Studies, which can be accessed through the university's online library resources.  Note:  Exceptional reviews will be considered for publication, with authorship credit being given to the students submitting them.

Meta-reflections (graduate students only)

Part of graduate training involves stepping into the professional role you will one day occupy, whether in a classroom or on the job.  For this reason, you will be asked to provide commentary on the reflective writing of some of the undergraduates in the class each week, in addition to completing such reflections of your own (to be marked by the faculty instructor).  The quality and timeliness of your feedback to students will be considered as part of your contribution to the class.

Required texts

Neimeyer, R. A. (Ed.)  (2012).  Techniques of grief therapy:  Creative practices for counseling the bereaved.  New York:  Routledge.

Neimeyer, R. A. (Ed.) (2011).  Grief and bereavement in contemporary society:  Bridging research and practice.  New York:  Routledge.