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John Shank

John Shank, Ed.D. CTRS





  • B.S. Springfield College
  • M.S. Pennsylvania State University
  • Ed.D. Boston University



John is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences where he continues to be active teaching and working on special projects. Prior to his retirement in July 2011, he chaired the Department of Therapeutic Recreation (2002-2010), and served as TR Program Director in the departments of Health Studies (1997-2002) and Sport Management and Leisure Studies (1986-1997). In addition to teaching undergraduate and graduate courses, John directed or co-directed several federally funded research, demonstration projects, and professional preparation training programs. These have included NIDRR-funded research on the effectiveness of recreation therapy in physical rehabilitation, developing a network of community recreation opportunities for persons with disabilities in Philadelphia (DOE-RSA), and creating, testing and disseminating a leisure education component for the life skills curriculum in the Special Education division  of the Philadelphia Public Schools (DOE-RSA). He was a research associate on an NIH funded health promotion program for women with disabilities, co-directed a state funded project on increasing inclusive recreation opportunities in schools and communities, and was Co-PI on an NIMH-funded project that examined active living and recovery among ethnically diverse individuals with mental illnesses. With his colleague, Dr. Catherine Coyle, he published Therapeutic Recreation in Health Promotion and Rehabilitation (2002). Service to his profession includes board membership on the national credentialing organization for recreation therapists (NCTRC) and serving as Associate Editor of the Therapeutic Recreation Journal and the Annual in Therapeutic Recreation. He received the University's Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award, and the Distinguished Fellow Award from the American Therapeutic Recreation Association. He is a Fellow in the National Academy of Recreation Therapists.  John is a nationally credentialed recreation therapist (CTRS).

Course Involvement

Teaching Areas

Theoretical and Conceptual Foundations of Therapeutic Recreation

Health, Leisure & Disability

Clinical Procedures of Recreation Therapy

Therapeutic Recreation, Play & Children's Health

Contemporary Aspects of Disability



Shank, J. & Coyle, C. (2002) Therapeutic Recreation in Health Promotion and Rehabilitation. State College, PA: Venture Publishing

Kraus, R. & Shank, J. (1992). Therapeutic Recreation Services: Principles and Practices. Dubuque, IA: Wm. C. Brown

Recent Book Chapters

Coyle, C.P., Vliet, N., & Shank, J. (2010). TR and rehabilitation. In Payne, L,. Ainsworth, B. & Godbey, G., Leisure, health and Wellness: Making the Connections, State College, PA: Venture Publishing.

Shank, J. (2009). Legislative and regulatory issues for therapeutic recreation. In N. Stumbo (Ed.) Professional issues in therapeutic recreation. Champaign, IL: Sagamore. 2nd Edition, 325-341.

Recent Refereed Journal Articles 

Porter, H., Iwasaki, I., & Shank, J. (in press).  Conceptualizing meaning-making through leisure experiences. Loisir et Société/Leisure & Society (accepted April 2011).

Iwasaki, Y., Coyle, C., & Shank, J. (2010). Leisure as a context for active living, recovery, health, and life quality for persons with mental illness in a global context. Health Promotion International, daq037 first published June 12, 2010.  Doi: 10 1093/heapro/daq037.

Wilhite, B, & Shank, J. (2009).  In praise of sport: Promoting sport participation as a mechanism of health among persons with a disability.  Disability and Health Journal, 2 (3), 116-127.

Coyle, C. & Shank, J. (2005).  The Role of Recreation and Leisure in Community Inclusion for Adults with Mental Illness: Issues Page, University of Pennsylvania Collaborative on Community Integration, Rehabilitation Research and Training Center’s Website. Available at http://www.upennrrtc.org/

Coyle, C. & Shank, J. (2004) Guest Editors Introduction to Special Issue on Health and Health Promotion: Do We CARE? Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 38 (2), 112-115.

Coyle, C., Santiago, M., Ma, G., Shank, J., & Boyd, R. (2000). Secondary conditions and women with physical disabilities. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 81, 1380-1387.


Grants & Contracts

CBPR on active living and recovery among racia/ethnic groups with mental illness. Role – Co-PI (with Y. Iwasaki (PI) and C. Coyle (Co-PI). National Institutes of Mental Health, May 2009 – April 2011, $410,000.

Leisure coaching and collaboration: Synergistic strategies for building inclusive high schools and communities.  Role Project Co-Director (with C.Coyle [PD] and B.Wilhite), Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council, October 2008-September 2010 ($120,000).

Pilot-testing technology enhanced recreational activities among adults with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.  Role – Co-PI (with C. Coyle and B. Wilhite). Provost’s Research Incentive Fund. July 2008-December 2009, $30,000.

Promoting Physically Active Recreation  & Sport Participation as Mechanism of Health & Wellness among Youth & Adults w/ Disabilities” College of Health Profession, Dean’s Incentive Fund Co-PIs: Wilhite, B. & Shank, J. October 2005- December 2006 ($5,500)

The Leisure Education Connection: Life Skills through Horticulture(with C. Coyle), Rehabilitation Services Administration, U.S. Dept. of Education; Special Recreation Demonstration Project.  Role - Project Director.  October, 1995 - September, 1998 ($247,792)

Strengthening Transition and Recreation Training (Project START)(with Drs. Coyle & Kinney); U.S. Dept. of Education, Special Education and Rehabilitation Services - Division of Personnel Preparation;  Role – Project Co-Director.   September 1994 - August 1998 ($356,000)

Pre-Professional Training in Therapeutic Recreation (Related Services); U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services; (Co-Director with T. Kinney)September, 1991 - August 1994 

Metropolitan Philadelphia Recreation Network;3 year special recreation demonstration project awarded by the Rehabilitation Services Administration, U.S. Dept. of Education;  Role – Project Director.  October, 1990 - August, 1993 ($286,204)

Effects of Therapeutic Recreation and Leisure Lifestyle on Rehabilitation Outcomes and Physical and Psychological Health of Individuals with a Physical Disability (Co-PI with T.Kinney);  3-year research grant from the U.S. Dept. of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research;  Role – Co PI.   September, 1988 - August 1991 ($523,000)

Leadership Preparation for Doctoral Education in Therapeutic Recreation (Role - Co-Director with T. Kinney), U.S. Dept. of Education, Division of Personnel Preparation   September,1990 - August 1993 ($284,000)

Inner-City Recreation Integration Project; 3-year demonstration project awarded by the Rehabilitation Services Administration, U.S. Dept. of Education; Role – Project Director October, 1987 - September 1990 ($280,906)


Areas of Research Interest:

  • Psychosocial Aspects of Health, Leisure, and Disability
  • Stress, Coping and Psychosocial Adaptation
  • Health Promotion
  • Play
  • Ethics

Additional Info

Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (Cert. # 13685; expires 2014)