Date of Completion


Embargo Period



learning, pedagogy, graduate athletic training education, developmentally effective experiences, student development

Major Advisor

Stephanie Singe

Associate Advisor

Kari Taylor

Associate Advisor

Jessica Barrett

Associate Advisor

Craig Denegar

Associate Advisor

Jon Rizzo

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Context. An understanding of valuable as well as ineffective learning experiences from the perspective of the professional masters (PM) athletic training student and how their level of development connects to these perceptions is needed to continue to encourage growth in the adult learner, a new type of scholar in many athletic training education programs (ATP).

Objective. Develop an understanding about the learning experiences that resonate positively and negatively with second year PM athletic training students, both in the classroom as well as in their clinical education. Create a theory about developmental level and perceptions of learning.

Design. Exploratory, qualitative using a general inductive approach and aspects of grounded theory.

Setting. Division 1 CAATE athletic training programs.

Participants. 12 participants (9 female, 3 male; 24 ± 2 years old).

Data Collection and Analysis. Participants engaged in a semi-structured video conference interview. Data were analyzed using aspects of general inductive approach and grounded theory to evaluate the raw data from the interviews. Reaching data saturation, peer review, and member checks were used to establish credibility.

Results. The valuable learning experience needed to prepare masters level athletic training students for educational success is the clinical experience which offers opportunities to practice autonomy and hands-on learning. Two main categories emerged from the data describing negative or ineffective aspects of learning: course design and educator effectiveness. From a developmental perspective, participants exhibited meaning making in two distinct ways: external guidance and transformative learning experiences. The developmentally effective experience that was the catalyst for deeper meaning making was the clinical experience.

Conclusion. Athletic training students highly value aspects of their education best delivered in a clinical setting but do not value all aspects of their education, especially those delivered in a traditional didactic setting. Educators should seek opportunities to fine tune their course design and find ways to increase effectiveness as educators. Additionally, considerations regarding the developmental level of students should be made by instructors when creating effective learning experiences.