Date of Award

Summer 8-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Performance and Recreation

Committee Chair

Brian Gearity

Committee Chair Department

Human Performance and Recreation

Committee Member 2

Melissa Thompson

Committee Member 2 Department

Human Performance and Recreation

Committee Member 3

Richard Mohn

Committee Member 3 Department

Educational Studies and Research

Committee Member 4

Trent Gould

Committee Member 4 Department

Human Performance and Recreation


Researchers have explored how practicing sport coaches learn through reflection (Gilbert & Trudel, 2001); however, there is a paucity of research that explains how and why higher education coach preparation students learn through reflection. The purpose of the current study was to understand how and why 21 coaching students enrolled in a practicum course at a southeastern United States institution engage in reflective practice. This research was conducted using a one group pretest posttest mix methods research design and draws upon Schön’s (1983, 1987) work on reflective practice, which underpinned a set of online structured reflective journaling prompts used as an intervention during the students’ practicum course. Each week, for 12 weeks of the practicum course, students were asked to respond to a theoretically informed prompt.

Quantitative data were collected via the Self-Reflection and Insight scale (SRIS-SRE; engagement in self-reflection, SRIS-SRN; need for self-reflection, SRIS-IN; insight) and a levels of reflection rubric to assess students’ intrapersonal knowledge. Qualitative data was collected via the students’ weekly responses to the prompts and a set of post practicum reflection responses. To address the quantitative component, a one-way repeated measures multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was conducted to examine the influence of time (i.e., pretest and posttest) on SRIS-SRE, SRIS-SRN, SRIS-IN, and levels of reflection. The results revealed that time did not have a significant influence on SRIS-SRE (p = .09), SRIS-SRN (p = .96), and SRIS-IN (p = .95). However, time did have a significant influence on levels of reflection (p < .01). These results suggest that the use of online structured reflective journaling within the practicum course had a positive influence on one variable of intrapersonal knowledge.

The qualitative findings resulted in 15 themes related to students’ role frames (e.g., creating a positive environment, performing in a dominating role), students’ self-identified weaknesses (e.g., weaknesses in role frame, weaknesses perceived by others), students’ dilemma identification (e.g., athletes’ underperformance, practicum coach’s underperformance), and students’ responses to dilemmas (e.g., enforcing a dominating role, developing a positive environment, generated strategies). These qualitative findings described what and to what extent students’ reflect in the practicum course.

The findings from both the quantitative and qualitative components provide a theoretically informed explanation of how coaching students learn through reflective journal prompting. Additionally, the findings also provide evidence for the efficacy of a theoretically informed reflective practice course on student learning in the higher education setting. These findings are discussed in relation to existing research on reflective practice, student learning in higher education, intrapersonal knowledge development, and the use of technology. Furthermore, implications for future research and coach educators are offered by considering the prompts influence on the students and the use of technology to facilitate learning in coach education.