Lab Research Projects

Leisure, Health and Wellness Research Lab Projects

Dr. Laura Payne

The primary focus of research projects that Dr. Laura Payne is conducting with her colleagues and graduate students is on the role of leisure in the promotion and maintenance of health among older adults with one or more ongoing health conditions. For example, over the last several years, they have developed and tested a multi-dimensional scale to measure leisure-based selective optimization with compensation. Take Charge of Your Health: Live Well Be Well (TC: LWBW) is another example of a project related to this area of inquiry. This project was funded by a grant from the USDA and the Retirement Research Foundation (RRF). TC: LWBW is an evidence-based chronic disease self-management program being implemented statewide in Illinois through collaboration among aging network service organizations and other health and social service agencies. In addition to capacity building and program dissemination, Dr. Payne is working with colleagues at the University of Illinois-Chicago to examine the reach, efficacy, adoption, implementation, and maintenance of this program in Illinois using the RE-AIM framework. Moreover, with permission from Stanford University, her UIUC Extension group has developed and is pilot testing a new leisure education program component that is added to the standard program.


Dr. Lynn Barnett Morris

The central question underlying Dr. Barnett's research is an investigation of what people derive from their participation in play and recreational activities. This question is being approached from different perspectives and settings, and with children through young adults. Longitudinal and cross-panel data examines children's history of engagement in out-of-school programs and activities compares their participation patterns with their academic, social, and emotional functioning, and with their parents’ attitudes toward time use, free play, and gender-role stereotyping. The ability of children and young adults to transform a stressful environment into one affording playful opportunities is another approach to investigating the dynamic interaction between people and their recreational environments, focusing on the internal attributes rather than on characteristics of their external environment. In complementary research, the use of community play structures by children through adolescents explores how external attributes of the structure elicit specific types of social, cooperative, physical, and emotional responses. Finally, an additional project is just beginning that identifies literature documenting the effects of recreational programs and facility use on military personnel and their families. This research will then be utilized to provide the foundation for a computerized decision model that can be employed by FMWR officers to aid in administrative decision-making about the allocation of resources.


Diversity Research Lab Projects

Drs. Monika Stodolska, Kim Shinew, Julie Son, and Jacqueline McDowell

Since the Diversity Lab was established in 2001, Drs. Stodolska, Shinew, Son, and McDowell conducted a number of exciting research projects under the auspices of the DRL. For instance, in 2009-2011, along with a graduate student – Juan Carlos Acevedo and Dr. Caterina Roman of the Temple University Drs. Stodolska and Shinew are conducting a study to examine the bi-directional relationship between crime (fear of crime, level of crime victimization, and perceived level of disorder in the community) and physical activity participation and outdoor recreation among Latino adolescents ages 11-14 and 15-18. The study focuses on Latino(a) adolescents residing in Little Village – a predominantly Latino community in Chicago and consists of two components: surveys and individual in-depth interviews. The study is being funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Salud America Program. In 2006-2009, Drs. Shinew, Stodolska, and Gobster of USDA investigated environmental preferences of Hispanic minority residents as they relate to physical activity. Among others, their study examined the level of perceived access minority residents have to natural environments, the frequency with which minority residents use natural environments for physical activity, and the specific environmental preferences of minority residents. The study consisted of three phases: surveys of community residents, focus groups with community residents, and interviews with local stakeholders. The study was funded by the U.S. Forest Service. Members of the DRL, along with the faculty from the

Department of Urban Planning and Department of Kinesiology and Community Health were also involved in a research project that examined the impact of sport facilities and trail systems on the utilization of urban parks, trails, and sport complexes for active recreation by Latino Americans. This study was conducted in two community parks in Elgin (a suburban Chicago community), in the Stuart Sports Complex in Aurora (also a suburban Chicago community) and along Lincoln Park trails in the City of Chicago. It was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Research projects conducted by members of the DRL also expand into the area of sport. For instance, in one of her research projects, Dr. McDowell examined why racial minorities are over-represented in academic support positions, such as life skill coordinators and academic supervisors/advisors, but under-represented in other administrative staff and senior level positions. This study explored this occurrence with senior level administrators and academic advisors in one Division I athletic department. In another research project, Dr. McDowell investigated the miasma (i.e. a murky atmosphere of misperceptions, stereotypes, and distortions in which many nontraditional leaders navigate) and challenges that Black female athletic directors of NCAA Division I, II, and III intercollegiate athletic departments, experience in the workplace. Currently, Dr. McDowell and Dr. Shinew are working to develop a program to address the low percentage of women of color in leadership positions in sport and recreation organizations.


Tourism Laboratory for Economic and Social Behavior Research

Dr. Carla Santos

Dr. Santos' research program is focused on the examination of communicative practices (from mass mediated narratives to the face-to-face dyad) as a means of addressing the socio-political and cultural impact of tourism on the world's people and cultures. Her research program contributes to tourism literature by exposing and locating how communicative practices can facilitate high quality tourism programs and services that are sustainable and productive in a social and cultural sense. Working with graduates students and faculty at the University of Illinois as well as other universities, Dr. Santos is currently involved in a variety of projects that broadly explore how communicative practices shape the moment-by-moment social actions of hosts and tourists. One of such projects examines the complex and loaded relationships of European Union heritage and tourism. The aim of the project is to investigate the negotiation of cultural identity for tourism purposes among local settings of everyday life and translocal administration and governance processes, in order to advance the understanding of the cultural and social legacies of tourism on the EU. This project is funded by the European Union Center, as well as the University of Illinois Research Board. Another project she is currently engaged in explores the creative, risk taking, and innovative nature of heritage tourism entrepreneurship. The project brings together existing knowledge regarding the development of entrepreneurial heritage tourism cultures, the commercialization of heritage tourism products, and the increasing significance of business networks for heritage tourism. This project is funded by the Academic for Entrepreneurial Leadership. Other recently completed projects include: an exploration of the meanings genealogical tourists attribute to their lived experiences and a contextualization those findings within larger social approaches to the human dynamics that drive contemporary tourism; and, an examination of the interlocking socio-cultural intra-ethnic relationships from the on-the-job perspectives of ethnic social agents involved in selling ethnic goods and services to tourists – in particular, Chicago's Chinatown Chinese justification of their involvement in the tourism-related project of manipulating ethnic identity. In conducting such projects, Dr. Santos uses a variety of research tools, including interviews, focus groups, participant observation, discourse analysis, phenomenology, and grounded theory, among others.