G D Ellis

G D Ellis
Texas A&M University and AgriLife Research

PhD

About

111
Publications
74,841
Reads
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1,715
Citations
Introduction
Gary D Ellis is Professor and Bradberry Chair in the Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Sciences, Texas A&M University System. Gary's research focuses on the quality of immediate, "structured" experiences for tourists, visitors to attractions and heritage sites, parks, and youth in any setting. His current research is directed at testing propositions advanced by the Theory of Structured Experience.
Additional affiliations
July 2008 - present
Texas A&M University
Position
  • Professor
August 1992 - June 2008
University of Utah
Position
  • Professor and Department Head
Education
January 1980 - August 1983
University of North Texas
Field of study
  • Higher Education Administration
September 1978 - December 1979
University of Kentucky
Field of study
  • Park and Recreation Administration
September 1974 - August 1978
Eastern Kentucky University
Field of study
  • Park and Recreation Administration

Publications

Publications (111)
Article
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Describes the development, reliability, and validity of 5 scales designed to measure perceived freedom in leisure. The scales are based on attribution theory and on the concepts of flow, arousal theory, and playfulness. The scales appear to have acceptable levels of both alpha and test–retest reliability. Initial indications of validity based on in...
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Dramatic increases in the adolescent suicide rate over the past three decades have underscored the need for risk-assessment tools. The tools that do exist are oriented to older populations and their application to adolescents is questionable. A project was initiated at the University of Utah's Health Education Department to develop a pilot instrume...
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Based on Aristotelian ethics, an "Adolescent Ethical Behavior in Leisure Scale" (AEBLS) was developed. Sixty-two items were created and reviewed by a panel of experts for content-related evidence of validity. Two validity studies were then conducted. In Study 1, data from 419 high- and low-risk adolescents were used to examine correlations between...
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We applied Cronbach and Meehl’s construct-validation process through nomological nets to evaluate true score theory and magnitude scaling approaches to measurement of situational engagement. Situational engagement was defined as an immediate subjective experience in which an unfolding narrative is occurring (e.g., spectator experiences at sporting...
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This fully online study examined environmental interpretation narratives and tested their influence on participant’s mindfulness and the value of their interpretive experiences. Dimensions of mindfulness were proposed to result from mindful interpretation strategies and a proposed model of interpretation value-during-use and interpretation value-af...
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Effects of Outdoor Recreation Participation and InterpretationWe conducted a field experiment in Thailand to evaluate effects of appreciative and mechanized forms of recreation and interpretation on environmental concerns of park visitors. Research participants were randomly assigned to one of eight experimental conditions defined by recreation typ...
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We examined effects of preflection, action, and reflection sessions on youth experiences during a 4‑H travel camp. The travel camp was one component of GLOBE, a 2-year Texas 4-H program with intentional goals of advancing understanding of agriculture, poverty, and world cultures. In morning preflection sessions, the 28 youth participants were instr...
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We introduce a new experience design tool, an experience journey map, to assist youth professionals in planning engagement, immersion, and absorption activities. Experience journey maps are based on customer journey maps, which are widely used in business service design. This new approach highlights strategies for engendering deep structured experi...
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We examined linkages through which structured camp experiences may facilitate satisfaction of psychological needs and thereby contribute to expansion of the self. First, we tested the effects of “leveling-up” the challenges of activities with the skills of campers and camper motivation source (intrinsic, integrated, introjected, and extrinsic) on i...
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The nature, causes, and effects of immediate conscious leisure experiences have long been central interests of scholars. Significant contributions to the field include Abraham Maslow’s studies of ecstasy and peak experience, Sigmund Koch’s descriptions of two forms of consciousness, John Neulinger’s classification of immediate conscious experiences...
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We examined relations between ‘darkness’ of dark tourism sites, provocation, and select indicators of the quality of visitors’ immediate subjective experiences. Experience observations (N = 101) were collected from tourists who visited Auschwitz (Krakow), Schindler’s Factory (Krakow), Execution Square (Paris), and a ghost tour (Edinburgh). Research...
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We conducted an experiment to test theoretical propositions relating coherence, personalization, and provocation to in-situ engagement, deep experience, delight, and perceived value of time spent. Four hundred adults from a national panel viewed one of eight versions of a video centered on a character in Victor Hugo’s classic novel Les Misérables,...
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Mindfulness is an actively engaged state of mind when an individual is attuned to their surrounding multi-sensory elements. Mindful learning experiences during youth programs may enhance learning and the overall quality of experiences. We developed, executed, and evaluated an end-of-day structured mindfulness experience during a 4-H travel camp. In...
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We evaluated 4 “experience industry” strategies for enhancing the quality of immediate experiences for 4-H youth: theming, adding multisensory experiences, personalizing interactions, and providing memorabilia. These strategies are commonly used by theme parks, restaurants, resorts, attractions, and other experience industry organizations, but thei...
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Lacanienta and his colleagues (2018) recently reported results of a study of the effect of themes on quality of experience of youths during summer camp activities. Existing literature suggested that theming activity sessions would have a strong main effect. Results, though, revealed an activity-by-theme interaction effect, i.e., themes seem to be e...
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We tested two propositions of the Theory of Structured Experience: first, strategies used to structure experiences in the leisure industries elevate experience quality only when a threshold of service performance is met or exceeded; and second, positive relations exist among indicators of experience quality. Two teams of higher education tourists v...
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This study examined the effect of living-history interpretation (i.e., first-person, third-person, no living history) and question type (i.e., relevant, dissonant, customary) on engagement of visitors during walking tours at a heritage site. One hundred seventy-six visitors participated in the study. Visitors completed a measure of engagement immed...
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We conducted an experiment to examine effects of different ways of structuring an event on quality of experience of participants. Video depictions of four versions of a tailgate event were distributed to a sample of 1,276 university students via the internet. Each video depiction represented one of the four conditions resulting from crossing custom...
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This research note describes an alternative scaling procedure for the Family Leisure Activity Profile (FLAP; Zabriskie & McCormick, 2001). The alternative scaling procedure preserves the ratio-level character of responses to FLAP questionnaire items, and it produces an estimate of prevalence of participation with interpretable units of time (hours)...
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Using themes (such as the Wild West or Survivor or Star Wars) in camp settings may enhance the quality of camp activities and youths’ overall camp experience. We evaluated the effect of theming camp experiences on the quality of subjective experiences of campers. Campers (N = 231) in 3 sessions of a residential 4-H camp participated in the study. O...
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We developed a procedure for measuring ‘deep structured experiences’ based on a conceptualization of such experiences being binary (i.e. present or absent at a given moment) rather than continuous. Deep structured experiences are heightened states of attention and motivation that may occur during a distinct period of activity. This binary approach...
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Effects of co-creation, experience structure, and locus of structure on subjective experiences of study-abroad tourists were examined. Perceived value, delight, and prevalence of deep structured experience (n = 208) were measured immediately following participation in activities at 13 attractions and settings. Each activity was coded according to (...
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We extend Duerden, Ward, and Freeman’s [2015. “Conceptualizing Structured Experiences.” Journal of Leisure Research 47 (5): 601–620] ‘structured experience’ framework by proposing a formal theory of structured experiences. The theory advances propositions about how leisure service providers may structure environments and interactions to facilitate...
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A brief questionnaire that can be used to routinely monitor the quality of structured experiences for youth is discussed in this paper. Structured experiences are discrete periods of time in which youth gather for activity under the supervision of adult or youth leaders. Four-item measures of perceived value and engagement were created. A questionn...
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Psychometric properties of the Family Leisure Activity Profile (FLAP) were evaluated using family leisure and family functioning ratings from 884 parents and children residing in the United Kingdom. Review and critique of the FLAP resulted in identification and evaluation of three alternative scaling techniques. Scaling Technique 1 was current prac...
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This paper is a case study. It tells the story of the process that the Council on Accreditation for Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Related Professions beta test site created its learning outcomes assessment program. A planning process was used that has evolved from quality management philosophy and practice: DMADV. Use of DMADV required precise def...
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This research examined the effect of concealment (environmental cues), presence or absence of people recreating (social cues), and gender on individuals’ fear of crime in a community park setting. Using a 7-point single-item indicator, 732 participants from two samples (540 park visitors and 192 college students) rated their estimates of fear of cr...
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In spite of the significance of social equity in determining appropriate fee levels for activities such as camping in public nature-tourism resources, there has been little understanding of the mechanisms that (a) influence the debate over scale and (b) the conditions that are used in fee determination. The main objective of this study is to invest...
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This study examined the effects of a recreation activity staged according to self-determination theory (SDT) principles on in-situ vitality and in-situ affinity toward nature of teen-age male students (age 14–17) enrolled in a residential treatment program. Procedures involved staging snowshoe tours for three groups of students. Each of these group...
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This study investigated decision-making process and outcome variables that predict perceived social equity judgments and price acceptability of user fees for visitors to a national forest. Data were collected in onsite interviews of 228 visitors to a USDA Forest Service campground. Hypothetical conditions involving combinations of six procedural an...
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Excellence in customer service has received considerable focus over the last two decades with primary scrutiny regarding the identification of customer's perceptions of service, the value of particular services, and the training of staff to provide consistent customer service. Pine and Gilmore (1999) explored how successful companies have moved bey...
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Poor sportsmanship is a serious and grow-ing problem in youth sports. Unpleasant experiences that follow from incidents involving poor sportsmanship can lead children to limit their physical activity, thereby increasing their risk of developing health prob-lems such as obesity and limiting the quality of their lives. In contrast,...
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Myriad research contexts in parks, recreation, and tourism are characterized by the existence of effects "nested" within other effects, but only very rarely are these effects acknowledged and incorporated into designs. Failure to account for these effects not only prevents researchers from assessing effects of nested variables, but it also creates...
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This paper focuses on how between 1965 and the present, the field of recreation has and has not accomplished the goals of author and educator J. B. Nash's in regard to recreation, physical education, and health, focusing on public recreation sponsored by city governments, county governments, and special tax districts. The paper looks at Nash's beli...
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This study investigated the relationship between frequency of participation in campus recreation services and six indicators of health and quality of life. The study involved a secondary analysis from a survey of a random sample of 342 students from a Western University. Health and quality of life measures included satisfaction with life, satisfact...
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Recent research regarding violence among juveniles has left important questions unanswered. One question involves the effect of gender. This paper reports the results of a study examining gender differences in violent behavior. The records of 136 juveniles (m = 71; f = 65) were reviewed to test the hypothesis that sexual abuse, low levels of family...
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This study examined the effects of a special curriculum designed to facilitate generalization of self-efficacy from weight-training exercises to activities of daily living (ADL) among a sample of adults with spinal injuries. Participants (N= 17) were assigned to 1 of 3 groups: (a) a weight-training instruction and self-efficacy generalization group...
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Multiple stressors on the child welfare system have forced innovative solutions to the overburdened foster care program. A promising alternative is kinship care, in which children are placed with biological relatives. Proponents cite the opportunity to place the child in familiar surroundings, the natural access to additional family resources, and...
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The purpose of this investigation was to develop and evaluate a causal model of volunteer satisfaction. The model includes three sets of concepts derived from functionalist theory. The first set includes a direct measure of the extent to which volunteer work experiences are satisfying psychological functions of volunteering. In addition, that set o...
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Role-identity theory supports the position that marital satisfaction is influenced by shared identities to a salient recreation role and by role support provided by a spouse for a salient recreation role identity for her or his partner. In addition, some previous studies have suggested that these effects are more prominent among women, but other re...
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Researchers have identified potential problems with the traditional measurement of challenge and skill on the self-report forms used in the experience sampling method (ESM) (Ellis, Voelkl, & Morris, 1994; Moneta & Csikszentmihalyi, 1996). The purpose of this study was to compare the effectiveness of two different approaches to measurement of challe...
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It is currently unknown why individuals opt to participate in risk taking as a form of recreation. This study was designed to test the hypothesis that β‐endorphin, a naturally produced opiatelike peptide, is secreted in response to a perception of risk, thereby reinforcing risk‐taking behaviors. A 2 × 2 factorial design (Time × Perceived Risk) with...
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Over the past several years, researchers have used data from the experience sampling method to operationalize flow and non-flow experiences in people's daily lives, including leisure, as indicated by the theory of optimal experiences (Csikszentmihalyi & Csikszentmihalyi, 1988). The challenge-skill ratio that is central to that theory has been found...
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The purpose of this study was to examine the factor structure among the five component measures of perceived freedom in leisure within the Leisure Diagnostic Battery. Matrixes of correlations from three previous studies were subjected to confirmatory factor analysis procedures. The three studies included samples of adolescents, young adults, and mi...