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To determine the factors that are perceived to contribute to first-time success on the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) Board of Certification Examination.
We surveyed a panel of athletic training educators who sponsor candidates for the examination by means of the Delphi technique. The Delphi technique is a method of structuring the collective judgments of a group of experts, conducted through a series of sequential questionnaires, each containing summarized information from earlier responses.
A total of 29 athletic training program directors whose programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs or approved by the NATA.
We used 3 questionnaires to solicit the opinions of experts and ultimately reach consensus. Each questionnaire was generated from the results of the previous questionnaire. The initial questionnaire asked respondents to list items that they perceived as contributing to first-time success. The second was generated from the results of the first and asked respondents to rate items using a Likert scale. The third questionnaire allowed respondents to change their answers based on the information presented. The study concluded with a consensus confirmation report that asked respondents to concur with the results of the study.
The panel reached consensus on items that reflected clinical experiences, teaching qualities and practices of the clinical instructors, student knowledge, test-taking skills, and student characteristics. Of these consensus items, the items contributing significantly to initial examination success were “ability to interpret the question,” “knowledge of theories and techniques in rehabilitation and modalities,” “clinical assessment skills,” “clinical settings that allow students to take an active role,” and “instructors committed to providing a positive learning environment.”
We noted 5 different areas perceived as contributing to a student's passing the examination on the first trial. These results can be used by program directors to enhance their curricular, didactic, and clinical structures to better prepare students for the examination. The results can also be used by the NATA Education Council in the development of educational programs for certified athletic trainers to become effective clinical instructors.