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The dynamics of informed problem -solving: An exploratory study of student attention and cognition in clinical athletic training

Holly A Noun, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The purpose of this study was to describe the attentional characteristics of Athletic Training Students (ATS) during the application of knowledge and skill in the clinical environment. This exploratory study occurred in two phases. Phase one involved administration of The Attentional and Interpersonal Style Inventory (TAIS) (Nideffer, 1976) to junior (n=51) and senior (n=38) students enrolled in eight CAAHEP accredited athletic training education programs. Factor Analysis of the 20 TAIS subscales supported a six-factor structure. A Two-way Multivariate Analysis of Variance (Status in program x Gender on the six factors) indicated no significant main effect for status in program, and no significant interaction effect. Discriminant function analysis revealed the Focus factor as a significant predictor of gender group membership; however, correct classification of subjects was moderate (66.3%). Large within group variance on the six factor scores indicated TAIS sensitivity to individual differences. TAIS factor profiles were used to select three juniors with large differences between the Overloaded/anxious factor and the Problem solving factor and three seniors with a small difference between the two factors. Data for phase two were field observations, videotaped injury evaluations and stimulated recall interviews for each of the six ATS. Qualitative data were analyzed using microscopic analysis, open and axial coding, and selective coding and coding for process. Two core themes that focussed on different aspects of how students used information to solve problems emerged. Information gathering and information processing, as continua interacted to form an informed problem-solving dynamic. At the core of this dynamic is effective or open problem solving, and at the periphery is less effective or directed problem solving. Open problem solving is facilitated through the integration of knowledge and experience. The implications of this study point to the importance of increasing educational emphasis on cognitive processes used by ATS in an injury evaluation to supplement the existing emphasis on clinical outcomes. ^

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Health education

Recommended Citation

Noun, Holly A, "The dynamics of informed problem -solving: An exploratory study of student attention and cognition in clinical athletic training" (2005). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3193930.