Karen Melton, Ph.D.

Karen Melton, Ph.D.
Associate Professor in Child and Family Studies
High Res Photo

Associate Professor in Child and Family Studies 


Link to Website: https://blogs.baylor.edu/karen_melton/

Link to Intervention: https://intentional.family/


Prior to academia, Dr. Melton was employed in adolescent settings such as camps, youth ministry, children’s homes, and boarding schools. In these settings, she has developed and managed adolescent and family programs. Now, as a professor, she teaches in Child & Family Studies and researches the maintenance of healthy families.

Dr. Melton’s research is guided by the idea that establishing and maintaining healthy family contexts will encourage healthy child and adolescent development. She strives to understand strategies and maintenance patterns related to family experiences that promote healthy family cultures. These strategies can be applied to prevention and interventions to reduce the mental and physical health disparities of children, adolescents, and their parents. Her scholarship focuses on creating positive family experiences. Her work on family experiences has been featured more than 100 times in domestic and international media sources, including Times, GQ, Good Morning America, Today Talk, MarketWatch, Baptist Standard, US News & World Report, iHeartMedia, among many others. Practical implications from her research can be found in the family life intervention, Intentional Family (www.intentional.family). Additionally, she regularly works with non-profits in conducting strategic planning and program evaluations.

Dr. Melton’s passion for family activity time extends beyond academics; she enjoys time spent with her family. She is married to Kyle, and they have two daughters (one is adopted). Some of her greatest joys include reading, running, and time spent in the great outdoors with her family.


Ph.D. Youth Development; Texas A&M University

M.S. Youth Development, Texas A&M University

B.S. Therapeutic Recreation; Minor: Psychology; University of South Alabama

Research Areas:

  • Family Experiences
  • Family Leisure
  • Social Connectedness
  • Family Well-being
  • Family Resource Management

Selected Publications:

Boccia, M., Melton, K. K., & Larson, M. (2020). An overview of the use of oxytocin measures in leisure studies. Journal of Leisure Research, 51(3). doi.org/10.1080/00222216.2019.1687265

Melton, K. K., Larson, M., & Boccia, M. (2019) Examining couple recreation & oxytocin via the creation of family experience framework. Journal of Marriage & Family, 81(3), 771-782. doi.org/10.1111/jomf.12556

Melton, K. K. & McAninch, N. (2018). From healthy to thriving: Conceptualization of purposive resource management of intentional families. Journal of Family & Consumer Sciences, 110(2), 14-36. doi:10.14307/JFCS110.2.14

Melton, K. K., Hodges, C., McAninch, N., & Olschewski, E. (2018). Family matters: Supporting positive youth development through family programming. In P. Witt & L. Caldwell, (Eds.) Positive Youth Development, 2nd Edition. State College, PA: Venture Publishing.

Melton, K. K., Townsend J. N., Hodge, C. J. (2018). Creation of military family leisure experiences. Journal of Family Theory & Review. 10(3), 602-619. https://doi.org/10.1111/jftr.12273

Melton, K. K. & Ellis, G. (2018). Measurement of time involvement in family activities: Alternative scaling for the Family Leisure Activity Profile. Leisure Sciences, 41(6), 535-541. doi.org/10.1080/01490400.2018.1458669

Melton, K. K. (2017). Family activity model: Crossroads of activity environment and family interactions in family leisure. Leisure Sciences, 39(5), 457-473. doi:10.1080/01490400.2017.1333056\

Melton, K. K. & Zabriskie, R. (2016). In the pursuit of happiness all family leisure is not equal. Special Issue on Happiness & Leisure. World Leisure Journal. 58(4), 311-326. doi:10.1080/16078055.2016.1228154

Melton, K. K., Ellis, G., & Zabriskie, R. (2016). Assessing alternative techniques for scaling the Family Leisure Activity Profile: Recommendations for future family leisure measurement. Leisure Sciences. 38(2), 179-198. doi:10.1080/01490400.2015.1087356