Can a Single, One-Hour Professional Development Training Increase the Trauma Awareness of Tutors At a Division 1 University?

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University of Alabama Libraries

Trauma has profound and far-reaching impacts on the behavioral, cognitive, emotional, physical, and social functioning of individuals (Perry et al., 1995). The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) study (Feletti et al., 1998) was seminal in identifying the high percentage of individuals who had experienced ACEs. Moreover, it was influential in highlighting the need for trauma awareness. Trauma awareness and trauma training have been implemented in kindergarten-12th grade (K-12) education for over two decades (Thomas et al., 2019). However, despite research suggesting that 58.5% of students in higher education have experienced one or more traumatic events (Im et al., 2020), and a study of NCAA student-athletes (71.7% of participants were Division 1 athletes) where 64.5% of student-athletes reported at least one ACE (Brown, 2019), there is a dearth of literature on trauma-awareness and training in higher education. Given the high percentage of athletes reporting at least one ACE, understanding how to efficiently increase trauma awareness among faculty and staff working with student-athletes would positively impact the outcomes for both the student-athletes with trauma backgrounds as well as the faculty and staff working with them. A first step to becoming trauma-informed is increasing trauma-awareness by providing effective professional development training to educators. The Multicultural and Social Justice Counseling Competency (MSJCC) model provides a framework of awareness, knowledge, skills, and action. It is a guiding work for understanding how to support students with backgrounds of trauma within academic-athletics. Trauma-awareness is important in academic-athletic programs in higher education, because it shifts the approach of faculty/staff from viewing challenging behaviors and academic challenges as moral or cognitive flaws in the student to being able to consider trauma as a possible root of academic and behavioral challenges due to biological trauma responses (Perry & Szalavitz, 2017; Perry & Winfrey, 2021; Van der Kolk, 2009, 2015). This in turn enables faculty/staff to realize how trauma may be impacting the student, recognize the signs/symptoms that they are seeing, and to use acquired skills to help the student regulate and reengage with learning (Perry & Daniels, 2016; Perry & Szalavitz, 2017; Perry & Winfrey, 2021). Increasing the trauma-awareness of academic-athletic tutors in higher education using a professional development training is a gap in the literature. Results indicated that a single, one-hour professional development training can increase overall trauma awareness of academic-athletic tutors at a D1 university.

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academic-athletics, ACEs, Education, Higher education, PTSD, Trauma