Peer Assisted Learning: A Pedagogical Alternative of Teaching Skills to Medical Students

Joana Fernandes Ribeiro, Manuel Rosete, Andreia Teixeira, Hugo Conceição, Lèlita Santos


Introduction: Technical skills training is fundamental for clinical practice although poorly emphasised in undergraduate medical curricula. In these circumstances, Peer Assisted Learning methodology has emerged as a valid alternative to overcome this insufficiency. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the impact on students of a Peer Assisted Learning program in basic surgical skills, regarding technical competences and knowledge improvement.
Material and Methods: A total of 104 randomly selected third year medical students participated in a workshop delivered by fifth year students. From that total, 34 students were assessed before and after the workshop, using the Objective Structured Assessment of Technical Skills instrument, that consists of a global rating scale and a procedure-specific checklist. Sixth year students (control group) were also assessed in their performance without participating in the workshop. Before workshop versus after workshop Objective Structured Assessment of Technical Skills results were compared using Wilcoxon and McNemar tests. After workshop versus control group Objective Structured Assessment of Technical Skills results were compared using Mann-Whitney, qui-squared test and Fisher’s exact test.
Results: For the global rating scale, students obtained an after the workshop score (29.5) that was significantly higher than the before the workshop score (15.5; p-value < 0.001), but no significant differences were found between after the workshop and control group scores (p-value = 0.167). For the procedure-specific checklist, 3rd year students had a substantial positive evolution in all parameters and obtained higher rates of correct achievements compared to the control group.
Discussion: The final outcomes demonstrated a significant qualitative and quantitative improvement of knowledge and technical skills, which is in accordance with other literature.
Conclusion: This Peer Assisted Learning program revealed promising results concerning improvement of surgical skills in medical students, with little staff faculty contribution and extension to a much broader number of students.


Education, Medical, Undergraduate; General Surgery / education; Peer Group; Students, Medical


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