Archives of Medicine and Health Sciences

SHORT COMMUNICATION
Year
: 2021  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 361--363

Peer-assisted learning: Our experience with undergraduate medical students


Ashok Vanagamudi, PJ Padmini 
 Department of Biochemistry, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Ashok Vanagamudi
Department of Biochemistry, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu
India

Abstract

Peer-assisted learning (PAL) is an innovative approach of learning where people from similar social groupings who are not professional teachers help each other to learn. This study was an experimental interventional comparative analysis conducted in the Department of Biochemistry and Department of Pediatrics, Karpagam faculty of medical sciences and research, Coimbatore. One hundred students were recruited in the study after getting informed consent. This study compared the effects of two educational methods: PAL and teaching by regular faculty members on 1st-year undergraduate medical students. Students' posttest marks in the PAL group were higher than the lecture group (12 ± 2.9 vs. 9.8 ± 3.5, P < 0.02). The majority (70%) of the students agreed that PAL is a better method of learning and develops teaching attitude. Most of the students strongly agreed that PAL provides friendly environment for learning (80%). PAL provides a relaxed environment for students to study and learn skills including leadership, presentation, and communication, all of which are very essential to practice modern medicine.



How to cite this article:
Vanagamudi A, Padmini P J. Peer-assisted learning: Our experience with undergraduate medical students.Arch Med Health Sci 2021;9:361-363


How to cite this URL:
Vanagamudi A, Padmini P J. Peer-assisted learning: Our experience with undergraduate medical students. Arch Med Health Sci [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Sep 29 ];9:361-363
Available from: https://www.amhsjournal.org/text.asp?2021/9/2/361/334001


Full Text



 Introduction



Peer-assisted learning (PAL) is an innovative approach of learning where people from similar social groupings who are not professional teachers help each other to learn. Teaching medical students is one of the important tasks for all medical teachers along with their valuable contribution in patient care and research. It is reflected by the word itself, as “doctor” comes from the Latin word “docere” which means “to teach.”[1]

From the student's point of view, PAL is a collaborative and cooperative learning strategy which offers variety of advantages such as close interaction between tutee and tutor. This close relationship could facilitate group discussion which may not easily happen in the presence of established faculty staff and formal teaching atmospheres. The teaching activity by itself can improve tutor's understanding from the syllabus and thereby provide them an opportunity to gradually increase their self-confidence and enable them to promote their communication skills required for better teaching as new educators.[2]

The Medical Council of India recommends improving the quality of training of the Indian Medical Graduate (IMG) by expanding the role of doctors/IMGs from Clinician to Communicator, Leadership, and member of the health care team. MCI also recommends improving the quality of training by vertical medical integration and expects doctors as health educators as a core competency among the IMGs.[3]

This study was conducted to compare the effectiveness of PAL and traditional teaching modality in undergraduate medical students and to evaluate the response and perception of students toward this new teaching methodology by questionnaire.

 Materials and Methods



This study was an experimental interventional comparative analysis conducted in the Department of Biochemistry and Department of Pediatrics at Karpagam faculty of medical sciences and research, Coimbatore. The study population included 1st year undergraduate medical students and final-year undergraduate medical students. The sample size was 100 medical students and they were divided into two groups-PAL method group and the traditional teaching method group. The PAL and traditional learning exposure was evaluated by Objective structured practical examination (OSPE) tests and feedback toward the perception of PAL was assessed by Likert scale.

This study examine and compared the effects of two educational methods: PAL module and teaching by regular faculty members (regular module) on first-year students. In PAL teaching method (PAL), senior medical students were given optional teaching module to take. All senior medical students were invited to participate in exploring the vertical educational integration. First, an intense training was given by the faculties about clinical–practical topics to be taught. The topics covered were classification and types of diabetes mellitus, investigations, treatment, complications of diabetes mellitus, and estimation of blood glucose. They were taught the basics of how to structure a lesson plan and ask effective questions and were allowed practicing their skills. In PAL, 2nd week onward senior medical students taught the junior medical students. In the PAL module, senior students generally taught eight to 10 students per session. In this experimental setup, two practical sessions were planned. In PAL module, the first session was observed once to see their skills. Two clinical practical sessions were given by peer students and assessed by OSPE. The scores were compared with the same session given by regular faculty. We used a researcher-made questionnaire consisting of 16 questions designed with a 5-point Likert scale (1 = strongly disagree, 2 = disagree, 3 = neutral, 4 = agree, and 5 = strongly agree) to assess their learning experience, perception toward the activity, and the level of satisfaction with the activity.

Statistical analysis

The results of postintervention tests of two experiments were presented as mean ± standard deviation. Paired t-test was used for comparing the effectiveness of educational methods. Feedback was assessed by the Likert scale. P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

 Results



Students' posttest marks in the PAL group were higher than the traditional lecture group (12 ± 2.9 vs. 9.8 ± 3.5, P < 0.02) [Table 1]. [Figure 1] and [Fiigure 2] show the response of students toward the effect of PAL on learning status. The majority (70%) of the students agreed that PAL is a better method of learning and develops teaching attitudes. Most of the students strongly agreed that PAL provides friendly environment for learning (80%). About 70% of the students gave positive response about the need of similar sessions in the future.{Table 1}{Figure 1}{Figure 2}

 Discussion



The term PAL is a newer educational concept in medical education where students teach their peers. The main aim of teaching and learning is how students can effectively interpret knowledge in modern practice to improve patient care.[4] Modern medical education is giving more importance on student-centered teaching and learning by the use of interactive, problem-based learning.[5]

PAL is a method in medical education which can improve teaching and learning by providing a safe learning environment to promote learning and retention of knowledge and develop teaching skills. Students feel more comfortable asking questions to their peers with less fear of being judged. This also provides opportunities for networking within the class.[6]

Half of the participants agreed that PAL is an exciting teaching-learning method, which promotes in-depth learning. In a study conducted in the Netherlands, the majority of the students agreed that peer teachers performed well in their teaching roles and can serve as effective teachers.[7]

More than half participants of our study agreed that the peer teaching environment was very friendly for learning. Students are more comfortable with peers and more likely to share their difficulties and doubts PAL has the benefits of increasing teaching skills.

PAL provides a relaxed environment for students to study and learn skills including leadership, presentation, and communication, all of which are very essential to practice modern medicine. Better understanding of teaching and learning principles during PAL make the students better learners.

 Conclusion



PAL could play a useful role in undergraduate medical education. PAL is an exciting teaching-learning method in undergraduate medical students and has the benefits of increasing teaching skills of students. Students have positive perceptions toward PAL and they wanted more sessions in future.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

References

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2Koles PG, Stolfi A, Borges NJ, Nelson S, Parmelee DX. The impact of team-based learning on medical students' academic performance. Acad Med 2010;85:1739-45.
3Available from: http://www.mciindia.org/tools/announcement/MCI_booklet.pdf. [Last accessed on 2017 May 21].
4Vijayata S, Mukesh S, Sunita S, Shivani K, Pinky L, Rajiv M. Introduction of near peer assisted learning approach in teaching proper hand scrub technique among undergraduate students. Int J Res Med Sci 2018;6:3004-9.
5Durning SJ, Ten Cate OT. Peer teaching in medical education. Med Teach 2007;29:523-4.
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