Lessons Learned in Implementing Peer-Assisted Learning

Yvonne Hodgson, Margaret Bearman, Michael Schneider-Kolsky

Abstract


In 2008, a peer-learning program (PAL) for pathology was introduced to second year students in an undergraduate course in Radiography and Medical Imaging to provide student-centred learning. In the PAL program small groups of students prepared and delivered a presentation on a disease to the rest of the class. A questionnaire and focus group were used to evaluate the student experience of the PAL program. Students had mixed experiences of the PAL program. On the one hand they had positive experiences in the preparation and delivery of their pathology presentations, an activity that required them to work at higher cognitive domains. However, only 19% of students said that learning from their peers improved their understanding, in contrast to the remaining 81% of students who said that learning from a university lecturer improved their understanding. All students stated they would prefer to learn pathology from a lecturer than their peers. The focus group discussion revealed a number of issues which informed the changes made in subsequent years and improved the students experience of PAL. The key issues for improving PAL included incorporating peer assessment to stimulate student engagement, providing good student support by academic staff for peer teaching and being explicit with the students about the benefits of PAL.

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