The lack of empathy in college students has been documented and empathy levels are reported to have declined over recent years. College student bereavement has not been well-researched (Balk, 2008) but the lack of declining college student empathy has documentation in psychological expressions (Balk, 2008). This article addresses social work students engaged in an academic bereavement assignment that incorporates student centered instruction (SCI) and “teaching through relationships.” Using an untimely social work students’ death, students utilize research, reflection, cooperative small group learning, and applied theory, to compose a writing assignment. Intentionally introducing the “sorrowful empty chair” in the bereavement assignment led to reflective thoughts that are equal to empathy and shows a reflection model in production. Applying theoretical framework to current events aids students understanding of theory. While current events’ research improves student research skills as well as their theoretical understanding, the application of theoretical frameworks and current events with research, leads to an increase in student devotion and commitment to produce good work.



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