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ERIC Number: ED554368
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 260
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3031-9257-9
Practitioners' Perceptions of the Academic Preparation of Funeral Directors and Embalmers in the Context of Changing Death Care Preferences in the United States
LuBrant, Michael Paul
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Minnesota
This study investigated practitioners' perceptions of the a) importance, b) academic preparation related to, and c) adequacy of, funeral service education at academic programs accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE) in the context of changing death care preferences in the United States. Participants in this research (n = 240) were funeral directors and/or embalmers sampled from across the United States who a) had completed a funeral service education program accredited by the ABFSE, b) during the past 12 months were employed by, and/or derived income from work for/at a funeral establishment in the United States that sells, or offers to sell, both funeral goods and services to the public, and c) held a license to practice funeral directing and/or embalming. Using a theoretical framework based upon a European approach to evaluation in higher education known as "tuning," practitioners' perceptions of the extent to which the ABFSE funeral service education curriculum is properly "tuned" to contemporary workforce needs were measured. An on-line survey instrument was developed for this study, and participants were asked to evaluate the importance of approximately one-third of the 170 ABFSE learning objectives for professional practice. For these same objectives, participants were also asked to evaluate a) the extent to which they believe they were adequately prepared by their funeral service education program to master each learning objective and b) their perception of the adequacy of each set of learning objectives, grouped according to curriculum content area, for the contemporary practice of funeral service. Perceptions of academic preparation for both the National Board Examination (NBE) and entry-level work-related responsibilities were also measured. Finally, participants were asked to recommend ways of improving funeral service education at ABFSE-accredited programs. The results of this study indicated that the majority of the 170 ABFSE learning objectives (n = 158) were perceived to be at least ("important") to the contemporary practice of funeral service. Of the 19 curriculum content areas, three (Funeral Directing, Funeral Service Psychology and Counseling, and Small Business Management) were perceived as having an inadequate number of learning objectives for the contemporary practice of funeral service. Concerning the perception of academic preparation for the purpose of mastering the learning objectives, the perception of either ("no preparation") or ("minimal preparation") was observed for 63 learning objectives within the curriculum content areas of Accounting, Business Law, Communication Skills, Funeral Directing, Funeral Service Management, Funeral Service Merchandising, Funeral Service Psychology and Counseling, History of Funeral Directing and Embalming, Small Business Management, and Sociology. With respect to workforce preparation, practitioners generally perceived themselves to have been well prepared by the funeral service education program they had completed to take the National Board Examination (NBE) of the International Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards, but not well prepared for the work they were expected to perform as entry-level funeral directors and/or embalmers. This study found evidence of a significant negative relationship between perceived preparation to take the NBE and perceived qualification to enter the workforce as an entry-level funeral director and/or embalmer. The results also indicated a disparity in annual income for work in funeral service between genders, with women earning significantly less money than men employed in similar positions. Practitioners recommended an expansion of work-related clinical experiences for students as part of their funeral service education, as well as increased efforts to prepare students for the kinds of work-related funeral directing activities they will experience following graduation. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A