Date of Conferral







Denise Horton


Previous research found that relationship quality (RQ) for intimate couples may be adversely effected in times of stress, potentially decreasing marital satisfaction up to 36% during a four-year period for high stress couples. Previous research indicated family values (FV) may mediate RQ in stressful times; however, no research has examined this relationship for online/blended program graduate students. Students in these programs experience unique stress, change, and at times, physical distance from an intimate partner. Coombs's theory on values consensus postulated that the more alike family values are in a relationship, the better the RQ will be. The purpose of this quantitative study was to determine differences between graduate students in online/blended programs and their partners in RQ and FV. Forty-five participants were surveyed using convenience sampling through a university participant pool. The majority of the online/blended program graduate participants were Caucasian and female. Variables were measured using the Family Assessment Device (FAD), the Perceived Relationship Quality Components Scale (PRQC), and demographic information. Mean scores for FAD were elevated indicating dysfunction in FV. A hierarchical multiple linear regression tested the hypothesis that family values are associated with RQ for study participants. The PRQC and FAD were significantly and negatively associated (R = -.80, α = .05) indicating as FAD increases PRQC decreases. Online/blended program students may need supports to maintain FV to mediate decreases in RQ during graduate study. Identifying FV impacts RQ can assist in the development of more targeted intervention, design, planning, and implementation of online and hybrid student assistance programs.