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J Athl Train. 1997 Jul-Sep; 32(3): 242–247.
PMCID: PMC1320245

Critical Thinking in Undergraduate Athletic Training Education

Donald Fuller, PhD, ATC



The purposes of this study were (a) to determine whether or not undergraduate athletic training educators are writing learning objectives that foster critical thinking (CT) skills, and (b) to determine if their written assignments and written examinations are measuring the extent to which students have developed CT skills.

Design and Setting:

Thirty institutions seeking accreditation for their athletic training programs from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Educational Programs in the 1994-95 academic year were asked to provide their curriculum materials (course syllabus, two to three examinations, or both from each athletic training-specific course).


Thirteen curriculum directors (43%) provided materials.


Each learning objective, examination question, and written assignment was classified as either CT or non-critical thinking (NCT) using Bloom's taxonomy.


From 64 usable syllabi, a total of 678 learning objectives were classified as either CT (52%) or NCT (48%). From 81 written examinations, 3215 questions were classified as either CT (14%) or NCT (86%). In addition, a total of 143 written assignments were all classified as CT.


The results of this study indicate that educators fostered more CT in their learning objectives and written assignments than in their written exams. Valid educational instruments (eg, Bloom's taxonomy) may help educators design learning objectives, assignments, and examinations.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (1.1M), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Slaughter DS, Brown DS, Gardner DL, Perritt LJ. Improving physical therapy students' clinical problem-solving skills: an analytical questioning model. Phys Ther. 1989 Jun;69(6):441–447. [PubMed]
  • Schwartz RW, Donnelly MB, Nash PP, Young B. Developing students' cognitive skills in a problem-based surgery clerkship. Acad Med. 1992 Oct;67(10):694–696. [PubMed]
  • Payton OD. Clinical reasoning process in physical therapy. Phys Ther. 1985 Jun;65(6):924–928. [PubMed]
  • Nash PP, Schwartz RW, Middleton JL, Witte FM, Young B. A student-centered, problem-based surgery clerkship. Acad Med. 1991 Jul;66(7):415–417. [PubMed]
  • Miller DA, Sadler JZ, Mohl PC, Melchiode GA. The cognitive context of examinations in psychiatry using Bloom's taxonomy. Med Educ. 1991 Nov;25(6):480–484. [PubMed]

Articles from Journal of Athletic Training are provided here courtesy of National Athletic Trainers Association