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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Gayle A. Thompson
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Educational Leadership, Research and Technology
Title: Systematic Study of the Validity of Clinical Performance Assessments in Entry-level Athletic Training Education
Dr. Brooks Applegate, Chair
Dr. Sue Poppink
Dr. Robert Moss
Date: Tuesday, November 6, 2007 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
3202 Sangren Hall
Performance assessment (PA) is essential to determining the competency of clinical skills in allied health education, yet little research has been conducted to determine what validity evidence supports the interpretations made from PA currently utilized in athletic training clinical education. This study examined current PA practice and associated effectiveness of PA used by athletic training clinical practicum course instructors. Current research suggests the most predominant method of PA utilized in athletic training follows a behavioral approach that emphasizes observation of specific skills in standardized ways, as exemplified by the “check-list” method. An alternative to the behavioral approach is the holistic approach which emphasizes the integration of professional judgment and decision making into the PA. An online survey was conducted to determine what behavioral and holistic PA were being utilized by athletic training clinical practicum course instructors (n = 82). In addition, a PA was developed and administered to forty students currently enrolled in four different entry-level athletic training education programs. Survey results indicated that in general, clinical practicum course instructors tended to utilize behavioral approaches for assessment of specific skills (psychomotor competencies) in basic level courses, whereas the holistic approach was more commonly used in assessing more advanced, decision making skills (clinical proficiencies) in advanced level courses. However, respondents tended to not significantly vary their PA approaches based on the type of skill being assessed within the same level course. Performance on the administered PA revealed that students tended to perform much better on the behavioral specific skill component over the holistic scenario component, regardless of their clinical level. This study indicates that despite interest in more holistic approaches to PA, in practice, behavioral approaches are highly utilized to assess professional skills. It also suggests that there is a lack of understanding of validity and how validity evidence can support current practice. Results of this study suggest that a more comprehensive study into current practice and how validity of PA is established would be beneficial to clinical education.