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Peer-assisted learning in medical school: tutees’ perspective

Authors Menezes A, Burgess A, Clarke A, Mellis C

Received 16 August 2015

Accepted for publication 24 October 2015

Published 18 January 2016 Volume 2016:7 Pages 31—38

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/AMEP.S94570

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Maria Olenick

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Anwarul Azim Majumder


Audrey Menezes,1,2 Annette Burgess,1 Antonia J Clarke,1,3 Craig Mellis1

1Central Clinical School, Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney; 2Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital; 3Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Purpose: Peer tutoring offers a valuable method of enhancing students’ learning experience in medical school. Junior students learn from senior peers to reinforce curriculum content in an engaging community environment. The aim of our study was to assess tutees’ perceptions of a formal peer tutoring program at the Central Clinical School of Sydney Medical School. We used the learning theory of the community of practice in order to understand tutees’ perspectives.
Patients and methods: All Year 1 and Year 2 students within the Central Clinical School were invited to be tutored by Year 3 and Year 4 students, respectively. Tutor pairs taught a group of three to four tutees fortnightly, and the tutorials were largely clinically based. A questionnaire containing 13 closed items and four open-ended questions regarding their experiences in the program was distributed to the tutees. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the data.
Results: A total of 66 of 101 (65%) Year 1 and Year 2 students took part as tutees and 42 of 106 (40%) students as tutors. The tutees' response rate was 53% (35/66). Results were largely positive, with 97% of the tutees enjoying the program, 90% showing interest in tutorial topics, 91% feeling a sense of community, 100% wanting to take part next year, 97% finding small groups effective, and 97% and 91% feeling an improved understanding of medical concepts and clinical skills, respectively. Tutees perceived the most useful aspects to be learning and revision and advice from experienced peers. The most frequent suggestion for improvement was to resolve scheduling conflicts.
Conclusion: Tutees found the peer tutoring program to be valuable in learning and revision, establishing a community, and gaining practical skills and advice through a small-group format. The community of practice framework was useful in identifying these areas of benefit, demonstrating that a peer tutoring program such as this can provide an enhanced learning environment for tutees.

Keywords: peer tutoring, community of practice, student teaching

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