Feedback in Clinical Education, Part II: Approved Clinical Instructor and Student Perceptions of and Influences on Feedback

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Context: Approved Clinical Instructors (ACIs; now known as preceptors) are expected to provide feedback to athletic training students (ATSs) during clinical education experiences. Researchers in other fields have found that clinical instructors and students often have different perceptions of actual and ideal feedback and that several factors may influence the feedback exchanges between instructors and students. However, understanding of these issues in athletic training education is minimal.

Objective: To investigate the current characteristics and perceptions of and the influences on feedback exchanges between ATSs and ACIs.

Design: Qualitative study.

Setting: One entry-level master's degree program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education.

Patients or Other Participants: Four ACIs and 4 second-year ATSs.

Data Collection and Analysis: Individual, semistructured interviews were conducted with participants and integrated with field notes and observations for analysis. We used the constant comparative approach to inductively analyze data and develop codes and categories. Member checking, triangulation, and peer debriefing were used to promote trustworthiness of the study.

Results: Participants described that feedback plays an important role in clinical education and has several purposes related to improving performance. The ACIs and ATSs also discussed several preferred characteristics of feedback. Participants identified 4 main influences on their feedback exchanges, including the ACI, the ATS, personalities, and the learning environment.

Conclusions: The ACIs and ATSs had similar perceptions of ideal feedback in addition to the actual feedback that was provided during their clinical education experiences. Most of the preferences for feedback were aligned with recommendations in the literature, suggesting that existing research findings are applicable to athletic training clinical education. Several factors influenced the feedback exchanges between ACIs and ATSs, which clinical education coordinators should consider when selecting clinical sites and training ACIs.


This article was originally published in Journal of Athletic Training, volume 49, issue 1, in 2014. DOI: 10.4085/1062-6050-48.6.15

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National Athletic Training Association