Exercise Science Senior Research Projects

Document Type

Senior Research Project

Publication Date

Fall 12-7-2016


College students are often experience many stressors. This study was designed to look at perceived-stress and health habits with relation to academic department of undergraduate students at Cedarville University. The results of this study have implications for the Physical Activity and the Christian Life (PACL) class, offered on the Cedarville campus, in assessing its current curriculum and making potential future adjustments to the course. The objective of this study was to answer the question: “Do perceived stress levels within different academic departments affect health habits in Cedarville University undergraduate students?”

The study was conducted with a campus-wide, 27 question survey using Qualtrics software via email. The survey was primarily comprised of close-ended questions using Likert scales and Cohen’s Perceived Stress scale to quantify perceived stress level, exercise habits, and eating habits. Included in the survey was an agreement to Informed Consent which ensured response anonymity. Inclusion criteria specified that the student had to be 18 years or older to participate. 535 students responded to the survey; 206 male participants (38.5%) and 329 female participants (61.5%). Students were asked to identify their academic department, year and gender.

The Engineering and Computer Science department had the highest perceived stress at 15.4% of all the participants, the Nursing at 14.1% and Science and mathematics at (11.8%). It was found that juniors had the highest collective stress among most majors on the perceived stress scale. 71% of participants ranked Academic/school work as the main stressor that they dealt with on a daily basis. 10.9% of participants ranked Relationships second. Junior-year females in science-based departments experienced more perceived stress than males within the same departments. It was hypothesized that higher stress levels would increase poor food choices among Cedarville students, however, the results do not confirm that hypothesis. Results of the survey showed that most of the campus consumed a normal amount of healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. Data relating the amount of exercise in relation to academic department shows that the most stressful majors have the highest incidence of exercise. The Nursing Department had the most participants who exercised 3 to 4 times a week. Engineering and Computer Science Department was second and the Science and Mathematics Department in third. Questions relating to the PACL class were asked regarding the course and how well stress management techniques were integrated into the curriculum. These questions were included in order to evaluate the effects that the PACL course had upon students and their stress management capabilities. Recommendations for further research would be to add a personality questionnaire; questions related to drug and alcohol consumption could also be added to the original survey.


Perceived stress, health habits, exercise, survey, qualtrics, Cohen's, stress


Dr. Crommett

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.