The Impact of a Short-Term Study Abroad Program that Offers a Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience and Conservation Activities


  • Jacqueline McLaughlin The Pennsylvania State University, Lehigh Valley
  • Mit Patel National Institute of Health in the Department of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
  • D. Kent Johnson Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne
  • Carlos L. de la Rosa Organization for Tropical Studies, Costa Rica



Short-term, Study abroad, Undergraduate research, Education abroad, Costa Rica, Panama


Short-term study abroad experiences are the most common type of undergraduate study abroad programs in the United States. However, and to the best of our knowledge, little empirical research exists on students’ learning outcomes following their participation in a short-term program using an integrated research praxis. To address this, we structured an international embedded program in Costa Rica and Panama which allowed students to engage in authentic research experiences topically centered in ecology and service-learning activities in conservation biology. Mixed methods analyses on data generated from the assessment of students (n=54) in three cohorts, revealed students’ gains (both positive and negative) in specific scientific skills and knowledge domains in both the fields of ecology and conservation biology, as well as interest in doing further field research, perceptions of authentic international field research, appreciation of the value of biodiversity, advocacy, and future actions as conservationists and informed citizens (global citizenship).


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How to Cite

McLaughlin, J., Patel, M., Johnson, D. K., & de la Rosa, C. L. (2018). The Impact of a Short-Term Study Abroad Program that Offers a Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience and Conservation Activities. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 30(3), 100–118.