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How to Succeed in this Course

This course has several segments. First, a significant amount of time is spent on the theoretical orientation around which this course is designed. The primary theory used is called the ABC-X Model of Crises. There are other variations and permutations of this theory, but this theoretical idea is at the heart of much of what the lessons discuss. During the middle game of this course, we will expose you to several topical ideas. These will center on such crisis-producing events as divorce, remarriage, substance abuse, family violence, and infertility. Finally, the last section of the course focuses on some key ideas about intervention. Intervention refers to information that will help you understand how to be a better community helper.

We feel it necessary to caution students about one particular aspect of this course. Most of the topics and ideas this course discusses are about difficulties. Of course, there are many stressful events in life that are also very pleasant and wonderful—such as giving birth, getting married, etc. Sometimes, however, it may seem like all we discuss and read about are the negative and bad events that can happen. It is an unfortunate residual effect of this course that reading about all of the problems families encounter can make you feel blue and may even become a barrier against wanting to read the next chapter or research article. To help, we suggest that you find a study partner. This is important for several reasons. First, it is our experience that you will learn the information and concepts better if you can verbally practice them with someone. You need to do this on a regular basis. Find someone who will quiz you, challenge you, and help you practice the ideas. For example, in the first lesson, we talk about the “definition of the situation.” This is a key theoretical idea that may be new to you. It can be helpful to find someone with whom you can read the definition of this concept—ask what they think it means—then tell them what you think it means and how it may apply to crisis theory overall. When you get to a topic—like divorce or infertility—it may be very helpful for you to make a list of the concepts and ideas in the reading and then talk to someone who has gone through that experience. During such a conversation, you could share with them the ideas you have been studying and see if they have examples, disagreements, or expansions to those ideas.

It would be a good idea within each lesson for you to include a short response about how you have been affected by the information in the chapter. We leave that up to you: those responses will not be graded, but we would like very much to know how you are coping with this course, what you read and discovered during a particular lesson, and how you feel about what you studied. We need to know something about how this information affects you. There are cases when studying a topic brings deeply felt emotions to the surface. It is not uncommon when this course is taught on campus for about 10 percent of a class to seek out an instructor and reveal that a certain section of the reading was very upsetting. They frequently comment that they remember some incident such as family violence, the pain of divorcing parents, experience with a spouse or sibling’s struggle with substance abuse, or the death of a cherished family member. While we can’t offer you direct assistance if you have such feelings, it is important for us to know that you are having those thoughts and responses. It is also very important for you to find someone with whom you can share those feelings, someone who can help you if necessary. In some cases, it may even be important for you to talk with a professional counselor about such unresolved feelings. Again, such a response to this information is not a common occurrence, but it does occasionally occur. Let us know if we can help.

Finally, it is important to say a word about professionalism. This is an upper-division course that is one in a series of core courses in the School of Family Life. We take “core courses” very seriously. These few courses that are designated as core courses have information within them that we think is essential for all students majoring in the family studies program to take. We expect a fairly high level of thoughtful integrative writing, synthesis thinking, and application based analyses to occur. Please read all materials very carefully and take the time to do them well. We tend to grade the assignments for this course carefully and expect students to produce papers and exams that are detailed, use integrative analyses, and demonstrate careful thought. As you may be able to tell, those of us who teach this course value this information and expect students to learn it well. We hope you enjoy this course and we are certain if you invest in the process you will grow from this experience.

BYU Course Outcomes

  1. Articulate the main conceptual frameworks which help us understand how families cope with stress.
  2. Demonstrate how a wide range of life events influence families both positively and negatively.
  3. Demonstrate what factors contribute to whether families respond positively or negatively to life events and transitions.
  4. Understand and apply how gospel principles regarding the family, charity, faith and trials interconnect with scholarly research on family stress.
  5. Demonstrate improvement in course content writing skills.

Course Learning Outcomes

When you successfully complete this course, you will:

  1. Understand several theories of stress and crisis as those theories apply to family life.
  2. Use the theories and ideas you learn by applying them to several common family stressor and crisis events.
  3. Increase your ability to assist others as they experience stressor and crisis events.
  4. Increase your ability to help your own family members in times of crisis.
  5. Build a stronger understanding of the role of crisis from a gospel centered view.

Course Materials

The following books and materials are required for this course.

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Readings: Families in Crisis for SFL 335

Each of these articles is part of the required reading for the course. You will be able to access electronic copies of them through the Library Services Portal in your online course.

Note: For full instructions on using the Library Services Portal to locate the articles, see Finding the Full Text of an Article from a Citation.


Be Thoughtful and Prayerful

You are encouraged to be prayerful, thoughtful, and respectful in how you approach your reading, discussing, and writing, and to do your very best thinking and writing on the Study Guide Journal entries. This class covers some sensitive, complex, and challenging issues. Thus, they deserve our best thinking, pondering, and expression. We have been commanded to “seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118). We encourage you use both of those strategies as you approach this course.

Course Schedule, Reading, and Assignments

LessonLesson Topic and ReadingsAssignments/Exams Due

Topic: What is Family Stress?


  • McKenry & Price: Chapter 1: Overview of Family Stress

Study Guide Journal Lesson 1
Topic: Referenced Research Paper Proposal GuidelinesResearch Paper Proposal

Topic: Understanding the Family Resilience Model


  • Text: None
  • Walsh (2002) – Family Resilience Model
  • Burr et al. (1994) – ABC-X Model

Study Guide Journal Lesson 2

Topic: Parenting and Family Stress Theory


  • McKenry & Price: Chapter 2 – Conceptualizing Parenting Stress
  • Crnic & Booth (1991) – Daily Hassles of Life
  • McCubbin et al. (2002) – Childhood Cancer

Study Guide Journal Lesson 3

Topic: The Power of the Daily Hassles of Life


  • McKenry & Price: Chapter 15: Everyday Hassles
  • Roberts & Levinson (2001) – Work in Family

Study Guide Journal Lesson 4

Abstract Summaries Due


Topic: Relationship Distress in Couples


  • McKenry & Price: Chapter 14: Relationship Distress

Study Guide Journal Lesson 5
Midcourse Exam

Topic: The Divorce and Remarriage Crises and Its Outcomes


  • McKenry & Price: Chapter 10: Divorce as a Stressor Event; Chapter 11: Remarriage
  • Amato, P. & Cheadle (2005)

Study Guide Journal Lesson 6

Research Paper Outline Due


Topic: Physical Health and Aging


  • McKenry & Price: Chapter 5: Physical Health; Chapter 3: Aging
  • Carroll et al. (2007)

Study Guide Journal Lesson 7

Violence, Abuse, and Neglect


  • McKenry & Price: Chapter 6: Violence, Abuse, and Neglect
  • Chapter 7 – Substance abuse
  • Umberson et al. (2003)
  • Felson & Cares (2005)

Study Guide Journal Lesson 8

Topic: Mental Illness in Families


  • McKenry & Price: Chapter 8:
  • Overton & Medina (2008)

Study Guide Journal Lesson 9

Research Paper Final Draft


Topic: Intervention in Families


  • McKenry & Price: Chapter 17: Intervention
  • Patterson (2002)

Study Guide Journal Lesson 10
Final Exam


Our experience has shown that you need to approach this course differently than most others you may have encountered. It is important to note that the readings are labor intensive as are the Study Guide Journal entries. Your course grade will be based on completing essay based exams and on writing a fairly in-depth research paper that asks you to integrate and synthesize information. It simply won’t work to do several lessons at one time and send them in for grading. For nearly every lesson, you will need to complete that lesson—receive feedback from your instructor—and then proceed to the next lesson. As a general rule, we won’t accept lesson submissions of more than one lesson at a time.

Additionally, our expectation for this course is that you do your research-paper work with a word-processing program that creates documents accessible to your instructor. We recommend that you save your documents in either .PDF format, or in rich-text .RTF format. All grading (where possible) will be done using something like “track changes,” a feature within Microsoft Word that allows your instructor to make comments directly on your work. (Please also note that most of us at the University have jettisoned the use of WordPerfect. We can convert documents created with that program, but we strongly prefer not to.)

Formatting Your Written Work

To make sure I can open and read your papers, please save them as Word .DOC or .DOCX files.

Use the course number, your first and last name, and the assignment name for the filename. For example, SFL335_JaneSmith_Lesson1Assignment.docx.

Submitting Your Written Assignments

Here’s how to submit your completed written assignments:

  1. Click the corresponding Assignment Submission link in your course.
  2. Click on “Show Dropbox” at the bottom right of your screen.
  3. Click on “Choose File.”
  4. In the window that pops up, navigate to the document you want to submit.
  5. Select the document and click “Open.”
  6. In the comment box below, add any comments you have or any comments required by the assignment.
  7. Once everything is ready, click “Submit.” A small icon will appear in the top right corner of the screen and on the navigation menu informing you that the assignment has been submitted and is ready for grading.

Research Synthesis Paper

A key activity for this course is writing a 10-page, scholarly research synthesis paper about a topic of your choice directly related to the course readings.

To assist you in preparing your research paper and to provide you with some feedback during the semester, there are 4 paper-preparation assignments:

AssignmentPointsDue with
Proposal20Lesson 1
Article Summaries100Lesson 4
Paper Outline80Lesson 6
Research Paper300Lesson 9
Paper Total500

Please Read: It is important to note that you submit each research paper segment for grading as part of a particular lesson. You might want to turn now to lesson 1 and take a look at the “Proposal” segment of your paper and notice that this activity is due with your first lesson. Additionally, you will note that your instructor must approve this part of your paper and may require a rewrite and re-submission. Because of this approval process, segment two of the paper (Article Summaries) is not due until lesson 4.

Research Paper Preparation Assignments

You will prepare and turn in a separate proposal, outline, and individual article summaries. Research articles you find for the article summaries assignment will be on the topic of your choice taken from the readings and chapters. It is essential that your instructor approves the topic of your paper before you proceed.

The final paper will be a review of relevant literature. Please read the instructions for completing this assignment in lesson three.

Please note that we are very specific about what we mean by a “research article.” The type of research article we are looking for here is one that has been written from an academic point of view. These are not articles found in Psychology Today, Family Circle Magazine, or any other popular type of press or magazine you would find on the shelves at a book store. Instead, these are articles written by professors, usually in a university setting. Typically these articles are published in professional journals. Some of the more prominent professional journals in the discipline of family science are (but not limited to):

If you have any doubt about what is or isn’t a journal article (as described above), consult with any university librarian or university faculty member. I am sure they will be able to show you examples.

We will grade each of these assignments according to the criteria we specify in the grading rubrics. Read the descriptions and rubrics thoroughly so that you understand what we expect.

Referenced Proposal

Example of a Referenced Proposal

This assignment will assess your “Knowledge Level” (Benson et al., 1992) and your ability to

Your proposal should include

You need between 7 and 15 references, since you probably won’t use all the references that you look at for your final paper. Please see lesson 1 for more information about this assignment. In lesson 1, you will find a list of possible topics that are approved for this paper, examples of the level of specificity required for the paper, and further instructions for completion of this activity.

Article Summaries

Example of an Article Summary

This activity assesses your “comprehension” (Benson et al., 1992) ability by helping you understand the intricacies of your research topic. We want to emphasize again that the primary comprehension feature of your final paper and from this activity will come from reading, comprehending, and responding to information written by professionals in the field of family and social science. Your personal and life experiences may be occasionally used as illustrative examples, but this research paper (including all of the activities leading up to writing it) asks you to focus primarily on what researchers, theorists, and published professional authors have had to say about your topic.

To that end, you will turn in an annotated bibliography for 10 of the articles you will use in your paper. (You may use more than 10 references in your final paper, but these are just a starting point and the core articles needed.) Each bibliography should have the APA reference and should summarize the article in 5 main areas:

  1. The research question(s) being addressed
  2. The main theoretical perspectives and concepts used
  3. Study sample characteristics, measures, and procedures
  4. Key findings from the study
  5. Conclusions from the study and your evaluation and impression of the article

You must be thorough in each of these areas to receive full points for this assignment (see the grading rubric for details). Please see lesson 4 for more information about this assignment.

Research Paper Outline

Example of a Research Paper Outline

Example of a Research Paper Outline

Your “Application Level” (Benson et al., 1992) assignment focuses on your ability to develop a clear and well-developed outline that describes the scope of your paper and includes full citations for all articles you plan to use in the final paper. The outline should be approximately 3–4 pages long. Fully write out your introductory paragraph(s) (including the thesis statement and purpose of the paper and/or research questions) to give us a sense of how this paper will emerge. This will likely be a revision or combination of your previous activity during which you developed a referenced proposal. In outline form, show the remaining section, sub-section, and paragraph-level arrangement of the final paper (note where you will cite your references—just list author and date). Lay out the thinking and meta-structure of your paper. Please see lesson 6 for more information about this assignment.

Research Paper Instructions

Example of a Research Paper

Example of a Research Paper

As I mentioned previously, your primary activity during this course will be to write a scholarly research paper.

It must be typed in Times Roman, 12-point font, with 1-inch margins.

The paper must be no more than 10 pages in length. The 10 pages do include the introduction, body, and conclusion. The 10 pages do not include the title page, abstract, references, tables and other inserted charts, etc.

The paper itself is worth 300 points.

Manuscript Preparation and Style

The research paper should strictly follow the guidelines of the current (6th) edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) in terms of margins, references, line spacing, and all other aspects of arrangement, style, and technical control. If you plan to do graduate work, you might consider purchasing the APA publication manual.

See the following websites for APA helps:

Important Note: Remember, this paper should be no longer than 10 pages, and formatted correctly. If I see it is longer, or not formatted to specifications, I will immediately stop reading, enter a failing grade, and send it back to you to revise and resubmit.

Study Guide Journal

Each lesson contains an in-depth, written Study Guide that you will complete as part of your Study Guide Journal and which we will grade and return to you with comments. Finally, your Study Guide Journal entries will prepare you to take two essay exams. The Study Guide Journal also makes up 500 points (10 lessons x 50 pts. each) of your course grade.

This class is based on a teaching style aimed at presenting you with a series of discussion questions for each unit of study. Those discussion questions become part of your Study Guide Journal. You will be expected to answer each of the questions as best you can and compile your answers into one document for each lesson submission. Each lesson has three types of questions.

The first type consists of simple questions that come directly from the reading. For example, in one of the lessons you are asked to give the definition of resilience. You need do nothing more than find this definition in the reading and write it into your Study Guide Journal entry for that lesson.

The second type of question asks you to summarize and condense a more complicated construct. For example, in lesson 2 you are asked to summarize and demonstrate your understanding of the Walsh Family Resilience Model. The idea is that you would write about this model in your own words and use this activity as a way to become familiar with the key concepts and ideas about that model.

The third type of question is synthesis/integration questions. These questions bring two or more complicated constructs or ideas together. These questions ask you to take a model, construct, or idea and contrast it with another model, construct, or idea. Or, a question may ask you to use that model or idea in an application response. For example, in lesson 2, you will contrast the Walsh Family Resilience Model with the ABC-X model of crisis. In this case, you would speak in detail about the attributes of each, how they are similar, how they are different, how each could be used for different applications, and, perhaps, how research could be done using each.

We want to impress upon you that the heart of this course is completing these Study Guide Journal entries and the paper with a strong scholarly approach. We want to you to go beyond telling long stories about individuals you know who have experienced a certain crisis or problem. In some cases, a short example of such stories may be relevant. However, the primary purpose of these study-guide activities is to have you become very conversant with the research, theories, and ideas that family scientists have been writing about for 60 years in this discipline. It may also be appropriate on rare occasions to use scriptures, conference talks, or church book examples for your papers, but only in very limited circumstances.

Keep in mind also that your essay exams will be taken directly from the study questions in your Study Guide Journal entries. In all cases, the essay questions will come from the third type of questions—synthesis/integration based inquiry. There are no surprises on the essay exam; however, we expect you to be able to write to those questions using information taken from your reading. So, it is critical you do your best to answer the questions as well and thoroughly as you can during the lesson exercises. When you submit your Study Guide Journal entries for each lesson, your instructor will review and critique your answers for these questions.

The following is the grading rubric for your Study Guide Journal submissions. Under each grading rubric (e.g. Support and Quality of Thought), you will see a scale of possible points. Each Study Guide Journal is worth 50 points and those points will be distributed according to the rubrics.

Example of a Study Guide Journal

Study Guide Journal Entry Rubrics


Submitting Your Study Guide Journal Entries

Click the Study Guide Journal assignment, read the directions carefully, and then click Start and then Yes to begin. Type your answers to each question, then click Submit to send your answers in for grading. You can also begin an assignment and save it if you need to continue later.

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The midcourse and final exams consist of 3 essay questions worth 50 points each; the exams are worth 150 points each, 300 points total. Each exam covers half of the lessons, and there is no comprehensive exam.

There are no surprises on the exams. The difference is that the exams are not open book. Therefore, it is critical that you come to the exam situation ready to write on several questions from previously written materials (namely your Study Guide Journal entries). It will take about 2 hours to complete an exam, so plan accordingly.

You should plan on spending a full 2 hours to take the exam. You should also write clearly and legibly!

Essay Exam Rubrics

Each exam includes three questions, and each question is scored separately using these criteria.


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Your course grade is composed of 3 elements: a research paper, Study Guide Journal entries, and exams. This is the summary of points for each research paper element, assignment, and exam.

Research Paper500
Study Guide Journal Entries500
Essay Midcourse and Final Exams300 (150 each)
Total Points Possible1300

Grade Scale

PercentGradeTotal Points
62 and belowE818 and below

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Copyright Notice

The materials used in connection with this online course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws. For questions or more information, please visit the BYU Copyright Licensing Office website.

“Members of the BYU community who willfully disregard this Copyright Policy or the BYU Copyright Guidelines place themselves individually at risk of legal action and may incur personal liability for their conduct. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal liabilities, including actual and statutory damages, costs and fees of litigation, fines, and imprisonment

Violations of the Copyright Policy may result in university disciplinary action including termination of university enrollment or employment.” (Emphasis added. Excerpt taken from the BYU Copyright Policy)

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University Policy - Title IX Statement

Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Brigham Young University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.

University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours a day).

BYU offers confidential resources for those affected by Sexual Misconduct, including the university’s Victim Advocate, as well as a number of non-confidential resources and services that may be helpful. Additional information about Title IX, the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, reporting requirements, and resources can be found at or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.

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Accessibility Notice

BYU is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to participate in BYU's programs and activities. In this spirit, BYU Independent Study aspires to improve web accessibility for users. While not required by law, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA provide a wide range of helpful recommendations to make Web content more accessible. BYU Independent Study strives to apply WCAG 2.0 recommendations where feasible, but may deviate from any recommendations that would result in an undue hardship to BYU Independent Study or alterations to program and course content and objectives. If you have questions about accessibility, or if you need to report problems with any accessibility features please see our Accessibilities and Accommodations Web Page.

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