How Athletic Training Educators Understand their Practice of Teaching: A Phenomenological Study
AuthorPayne, Ellen K.
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The purpose of this phenomenological study was to examine the understandings that select athletic training educators (ATEs) hold about their teaching in the classroom and what factors influenced their selection of teaching methods. The three research questions that guided this study were: (a) how do select ATEs understand their own teaching, (b) what strategies do they frequently use, and (c) what factors influence their selection of teaching methods. The participants of this study were purposefully selected beginning with critical case sampling of ATEs who were leaders in the field of athletic training education, followed by the additional recruitment of ATEs through a snowball method. Seven ATEs ultimately agreed to participate. Data sources for this study included interviews and documents. Participants also videotaped a teaching lesson from one of their undergraduate athletic training classes to aid in their reflection on their teaching for the in-depth interview. The data was analyzed in an effort to find the essence of the phenomenon. This included the identification of overarching themes and constant comparison of participants throughout the process. Two main themes emerged from the data: (a) mindfulness of the ATEs' teaching practice and (b) genuine care for the success and development of their students. Each theme was further broken down into subthemes. The theme of mindfulness of the participants' teaching practice was demonstrated through the following four subthemes: (a) their personal evolution as ATEs, (b) balance of student learning and engagement with required content, (c) importance of critical thinking, and (d) content being applicable/useful/relevant. The theme genuine care for the success and development of their students was illustrated through the following four subthemes: (a) student focused teaching, (b) development of skills other than academic, (c) today's students, and (d) student success and good certified athletic trainers. Further review of the findings and themes revealed the larger concept, teaching as an essential vehicle to advance the profession of athletic training by way of instilling foundational behaviors in students.