Feedback in Clinical Education, Part I: Characteristics of Feedback Provided by Approved Clinical Instructors

Document Type


Publication Date



Context: Providing students with feedback is an important component of athletic training clinical education; however, little information is known about the feedback that Approved Clinical Instructors (ACIs; now known as preceptors) currently provide to athletic training students (ATSs).

Objective: To characterize the feedback provided by ACIs to ATSs during clinical education experiences.

Design: Qualitative study.

Setting: One National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I athletic training facility and 1 outpatient rehabilitation clinic that were clinical sites for 1 entry-level master's degree program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education.

Patients or Other Participants: A total of 4 ACIs with various experience levels and 4 second-year ATSs.

Data Collection and Analysis: Extensive field observations were audio recorded, transcribed, and integrated with field notes for analysis. The constant comparative approach of open, axial, and selective coding was used to inductively analyze data and develop codes and categories. Member checking, triangulation, and peer debriefing were used to promote trustworthiness of the study.

Results: The ACIs gave 88 feedback statements in 45 hours and 10 minutes of observation. Characteristics of feedback categories included purpose, timing, specificity, content, form, and privacy.

Conclusions: Feedback that ACIs provided included several components that made each feedback exchange unique. The ACIs in our study provided feedback that is supported by the literature, suggesting that ACIs are using current recommendations for providing feedback. Feedback needs to be investigated across multiple athletic training education programs to gain more understanding of certain areas of feedback, including frequency, privacy, and form.


This article was originally published in Journal of Athletic Training, volume 49, issue 1, in 2014. DOI: 10.4085/1062-6050-48.6.14

Peer Reviewed



National Athletic Training Association