Date of Award

2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

First Advisor

Sydney Brown

Abstract

This study was designed to examine the factors that contribute to student persistence into athletic training education programs (ATEPs). The researcher also gauged prospective athletic training students' perceptions on experiences that contributed to their decision to either apply or not apply to ATEPs.

Invited study participants included all freshmen prospective athletic training students who were enrolled in the Athletic Training Introductory course/s at three participating CAATE-accredited ATEPs with a secondary admissions process occurring in the fall. Contact persons from each ATEP were e-mailed a study introduction letter and asked to e-mail a student letter with a survey link to students in introductory course/s. The researcher merged two retention theories and developed a survey to gather data with regards to how program attributes, social, academic, clinical integration, and program commitment affect student persistence. Additionally, the survey included demographic items. The researcher also conducted semi-structured interviews with contact persons from each ATEP and gathered institution demographics, program demographics, and program attributes. Mann Whitney U tests were conducted to determine if differences among group responses existed. Spearman Rho correlation analyses were utilized to determine relationships between each independent variable (i.e., academic, social, clinical integration, program attributes, and program commitment) and each group (i.e., persisters and non-persisters). Establishing correlation significance allowed for the application of Binary Logistic Regression analysis to seek predictive variables. All qualitative responses provided in the survey data were coded utilizing an interpretive method of data coding. Overall descriptive statistics were computed on all survey items.

With the results of this study, it was established that both a difference and relationship existed between each group and student persistence with Mann Whitney U and Spearman Rho correlations demonstrating significant results. Binary Logistic regression analysis did not yield predictive variables. The greatest correlation existed between program commitment and persistence. These findings suggested that strong program commitment is more influential in persistence than other variables. Qualitative results revealed that persisters and non-persisters manage the pre-application period differently, resulting in either persistence or non-persistence. Additionally, the rapport between athletes and athletic trainers serving as preceptors, the relationships between prospective athletic training students and athletic training students, and the mentorship displayed by athletic training students were all contributors to persistence.

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