Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Higher Education


Leadership and Counselor Education

First Advisor

Amy E. Wells Dolan

Second Advisor

Linda F. Chitwood

Third Advisor

Whitney Webb

Relational Format



In a struggling global economy, internships offer students the opportunity to connect with a network of resources early on in their career journey and provide students with the hands-on work experience that is not often found within the confines of the classroom (Hindmoor, 2010). Higher Education is continuously posed with the challenge of defending the type of education that students are being given and the value that education has (Arum & Roska, 2011a; Arum & Roska, 2014b; Hacker & Dreifus, 2010). With that in mind, internships could be the missing link that leaves future graduates equipped with the much-needed preparation for their career by enhancing their ability to become more creative critical thinkers, better communicators, and more skilled practitioners (Weible, 2010). Athletic training is just one of many professional fields in which internships can provide students with opportunities to gain real-life experience and practice in their chosen profession. This qualitative case study sought to gain a better understanding of the value of clinical internships Athletic Training Education Programs (ATEPs) through the exploration of the perspectives and experiences of ATEP directors, clinical coordinator, and faculty instructors. In-depth semi-structure interviews were conducted with14 athletic training education professionals from 5 southern region institutions. After inductive analysis, two themes emerged, including: Knowledge & Experience…But a Lot of Experience and An Interesting Kind of Evolution. Through the use of Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory, helpful information was provided that enhanced the overall understanding of how to approach different learning styles in higher education and in the field of athletic training. Although athletic training students are not typically characterized as having a predominant learning-style type (Stradley, et al., 2002), many are found to identify themselves with the hands-on learning that is strongly associated with the concrete experience and active experimentation of Kolb’s Theory (Kolb & Kolb, 2005). This study provided insight on how internships can be found to fill the role of that particular style of learning and potentially enhance the overall education of athletic training professionals.



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