Study Abroad Programs and Student Stress: An Animal Science Curriculum Case Study


  • Jayden Lawrence
  • Michael Barrowclough
  • Drew Lugar Illinois State University



animal science, heart rate variability, student stress, study abroad


Study abroad programs increase a student’s exposure to different cultures, traditions, and ways of life. While the benefits of participating in a study abroad program have been well documented, barriers, such as language, culture, and environment, may present themselves to program participants. Participants are introduced to a variety of new experiences both prior to and while abroad, which have the potential to introduce additional stress on students, in conjunction with the stress more typically experienced during a ‘traditional’ college experience. This study aims to quantify student stress prior to and while studying abroad in relation to their demographics and life experiences. Over a 12-day period in December 2022 in Mexico City, Mexico, students participated in an Animal Science focused study abroad program. Psychological and physiological stress data were collected in conjunction with student demographic and background characteristics. Data analysis showed that participant’s perceived stress scores were higher prior to going abroad, than while abroad, and that a participant’s ethnicity was a predictor of perceived stress (P < 0.05). However, physiological stress was not impacted by study abroad or demographic information (P > 0.05).


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How to Cite

Lawrence, J., Barrowclough, M. ., & Lugar, D. (2024). Study Abroad Programs and Student Stress: An Animal Science Curriculum Case Study. NACTA Journal, 68(1).