Dr. Gibson and her graduate students present research at TALS Conference in Indianapolis

February 20, 2018

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In Mid-Febraury, Dr. Heather Gibson and her PhD students traveled to Indianapolis, Indiana to present and participate in a workshop at The Academy of Leisure Sciences Conference. This conference included keynote speakers, research poster presentations, teaching seminars, and panel discussions.

“The conference was the first for the Academy of Leisure Sciences (TALS) to host both the research and the teaching institutes at one time,” Dr. Heather Gibson stated. “I think it worked well. The sessions were workshop style of an hour each which gave presenters more time to talk about their work and for the audience to ask questions and share their experiences especially in the teaching sessions. It was also good to catch up with colleagues from different universities and find out what is happening in their programs as well as to meet the new generation of scholars both new PhDs and current PhD students.”

PhD students Yu Niu and Mona Sadat Mirehie presented their research poster that focused on highlighting the concepts in leisure studies and to explore the future directors for studying leisure and well-being. They presented two original case studies, one focusing on female snow skiers and snowboarders represented Seligman’s (2011) five domains of well-being that form the PERMA framework, and the second case study focusing on the positive effects of promoting leisure participation, social connection and attitudes toward life in the well-being of older adults.

"I love the scientific spirit and the warm and friendly environment in this conference," PhD student Mona Sadat Mirehie said. "This year it was even more enjoyable since we had a significant number of attendees in our presentation. Nothing feels better when you have a big room packed with attendees and then others join and care to listen so much that they sit on the floor for one hour. There were also great networking opportunities, after our presentation I had numerous people telling me how much they enjoyed the content and composure in our session. I also received an invitation to review papers for the next conference."

The second poster presented by PhD students Hongping Zhang, and her University of Illinois colleagues, focused on the role of leisure engagements in the establishment of bonding and bridging social capital among Chinese international students. For their research, they conducted two rounds of in-depth interviews with 15 Chinese graduate students at a large Midwestern university in the U.S. The findings helped to expand the functional model of friendship networks by indicating that connections with co-nationals facilitate the development of both bonding and bridging social capital. Second, although international students expressed willingness to interact with their domestic counterparts, they were concerned about the possible rejection by their co-national group of those who “stepped outside” of their social circles. Third, international students’ leisure preferences were shaped by their plans for the future and the perceived availability of social capital.