Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Adult & Higher Education

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Lloyd I Richardson, PhD


Pi-Chi Han

John A. Henschke

Michael D. Ward


Physicians and patients trust the medical laboratory science (MLS) professionals performing laboratory tests, assuming that they are competent. The education of these professionals includes time spent in clinical rotations; weeks that students spend alongside their clinical instructors who are practicing professionals. When they first have students to teach, these clinical instructors have little or no experience or training in how to conduct clinical instruction. This research examined how medical laboratory science clinical instructors learn to conduct clinical instruction. In order to describe the phenomenon of clinical instructors learning to conduct clinical instruction, a mixed methods approach was used. In the first phase, a questionnaire was distributed to clinical instructors at hospital affiliates of six Midwest university programs of medical laboratory science. In the second phase, six MLS clinical instructors were interviewed to explore more deeply how they learn to conduct clinical instruction. These data were analyzed for recurrent themes. The culmination of the research was a thick, rich description of the phenomenon of how medical laboratory scientists learn to conduct clinical instruction. In addition, six themes were identified: 1) clinical instructors (CI) use experience as a learning resource; 2) CI learn in order to solve problems and they apply their learning for immediate use; 3) CI use a variety of methods to learn how to do clinical instruction; 4) some CI have a natural ability for teaching but some do not; 5) CI must learn to teach with less time; and 6) CI vary in their self-directedness and internal motivation. The research showed that medical laboratory science clinical instructors act as adult learners by using their experiences as students, experiences as instructors, and life experiences to learn clinical instruction. As adult learners, they are focused on learning in order to solve problems, learning for immediate application. Clinical instructors learn clinical instruction by a variety of methods. With increasing stress and workload, clinical instructors in medical laboratories, however, find it difficult to concentrate on learning to teach students. By understanding how clinical instructors learn, hospital management and university MLS programs will be better prepared to support clinical instructors.

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