Date of Award



© 2020 Kathleen Williams

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Laura Bertonazzi

Second Advisor

Leslie Hitch

Third Advisor

John Ranney


Athletic training degree programs require both clinical and classroom educational content. The educational content of the 2020 Standards, adopted in 2018 by athletic training’s accrediting body, included a requirement for additional skills and a minimum level degree. However, clinical preceptors educated prior to 2018 working in athletic training programs are often not proficient or trained in the new techniques. The change in athletic training educational knowledge has led to a theory–practice gap between athletic training faculty and clinical preceptors working in the field. Athletic training faculty and clinical preceptors need good communication and interpersonal working relationships to bridge the gap between theory and application of knowledge.

Currently, a gap exists in practitioners’ understanding of the working relationships between academic and clinical athletic trainers and their influence on athletic training programs. The purpose of this study was to understand the theory–practice gap in athletic training programs by identifying attitudes and perceptions of the working relationships between faculty and clinical athletic trainers at Commission on Accreditation in Athletic Training Education (CAATE)-accredited institutions. This study’s research question was “What are the attitudes and perceptions of working relationships between a select sample of faculty and clinical athletic trainers in CAATE-accredited athletic training programs?” This study used a qualitative interpretive phenomenological research methodology. The eight participants were clinical, and faculty athletic trainers associated with an accredited athletic training program. Interviews were completed, and the researcher used the qualitative data to develop themes. Two themes and four subthemes emerged, including communication, communication about 2020 Standards, support, job position, working relationships, and value. For positive working relationships, athletic trainers should receive support in their job positions, communicate well, collaborate, and feel valued within the athletic training program. Further research should focus on studying communication between academic and clinical athletic trainers with regard to the theory–practice gap in the field of athletic training.


Ed.D. Dissertation