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“Those who know why will follow those who know how.” I give this quote to my students on the first day of their therapeutic modalities class. As a profession, we have grown tremendously over the last several decades, particularly in the area of clinical research. Our scientific inquiry into the clinical application of athletic training has led to new practice and theory. Thus, it is only natural that our professional quest evolve to include educational research, as has been the case in other disciplines. The medical field, being highly clinical and scientifically based, has forged a path in medical education research. Pedagogy has become quite prolific in its educational research inquiry. As we become better clinicians, so must we strive to better educate our students. The purpose of the manuscripts in this section is to provide insight into potential areas of educational research in athletic training and also show the gaps that require further study.
In the first article, Turocy provides an overview of the types of educational research that have been conducted in our profession, highlighting the gaps in our current level of inquiry. The intent of this article is not to provide an overview of how educational research can be applied to the athletic training profession but rather to “help educators identify areas within athletic training education that require further validation and to provide both educators and clinicians with insight into the current validated educational practices that may be appropriate to incorporate into educational settings or practice.”
The manuscript by Pitney and Parker expands on a previous article1 regarding the application of qualitative research in athletic training. As educators, we recognize a place for qualitative research in our profession. The qualitative approaches introduced in this manuscript will aid educators in asking the right questions and provide them with direction in setting out on a solid path of inquiry.
Turocy's article on survey research is also intended to introduce a research technique that will aid investigators in developing a study based on sound design principles. The purpose of survey research is to “[allow] an investigator to get a ‘snapshot’ of what is happening at a given time or situation and then [allow] the investigator to determine how that snapshot influences other behaviors or situations.”
As mentioned by Harrelson in his commentary, we must look outside our profession and learn what other professionals like us are doing to educate their students. Although we should not set out to reinvent the wheel, we do need to ensure that our educational practices constitute a sound, valid approach for athletic training students. Therefore, we must strive to set out on our own journey of inquiry. The educational practices infused into our curricula cannot be accepted without study and question. I encourage you to step outside the box, refer to other disciplines for insight, and commit to testing new theories and educational practices.
Allow me to provide some examples of scholarship in other disciplines that we might consider for our own research agendas:
I have also listed a few other resources for your reference as you consider stepping outside the box to validate our educational practices in athletic training.
Editor's Note: Denise L. Wiksten, PhD, ATC, is a JAT Associate Editor and Athletic Training Program Director at San Diego State University, San Diego, CA.