Date of Award

Fall 10-9-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Higher Education Leadership, Management, Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Martin Finkelstein, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Richard Blissett, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mitra Shojania Feizabadi, Ph.D.


Trauma in Higher education, Trauma-informed, faculty development, biopsychological effects of trauma, science of trauma, faculty knowledge of trauma


The current era in higher education has brought changes to the academic profession. Faculty have an increasing number of responsibilities in addition to their traditional role as an instructor. At the same time, faculty are engaging with a changing and diverse student population. The population has more challenges, with increased stressors, than have been historically observed in higher education students. For many, the stressors are trauma-related and are a growing concern. Trauma has been shown to impact cognitive, social, emotional, and physical well-being. What has been learned about trauma is, to a great extent, a result of the relatively recently emerged science of biopsychology. Biopsychological information has become an integral component in trauma-informed faculty development programs. While the perception is that these programs are effective, it is not known whether biopsychological knowledge could inform faculty understanding of student behaviors and whether faculty believe this new science could inform their teaching practices. The purpose of this study was to assess faculty knowledge and their attitudes and beliefs about practices as they pertain to the effectiveness of biopsychological knowledge related to trauma and to determine whether a trauma-informed workshop could effectively deliver this knowledge. The study also sought to understand the key factors necessary for facilitating these trauma programs. The results of this investigation indicate that faculty lack knowledge about the biopsychological effects of trauma on learning. Presenting a trauma-informed workshop was effective in increasing faculty knowledge and their belief that biopsychology can inform teaching practices. Faculty who attended the workshop had favorable attitudes prior to attending. However, they indicated that time was the primary factor in impeding or inhibiting participating in trauma-informed programs.