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Evaluation of a compulsory peer-assisted learning and mentoring programme for medical students

Eleanor Danek, Michele Levinson


Introduction: The benefits of peer-assisted learning (PAL) in medical education are varied and well-documented. PAL encompasses a diverse spectrum of organisational approaches, and there is limited data relating to the value of specific approaches. At our university, PAL initiatives have traditionally relied on voluntary participation. The aim of this study was to evaluate satisfaction and utility of a PAL and mentoring (PALM) programme run on a compulsory rather than voluntary basis.

Methods: Students participated in a compulsory PALM programme over the course of 1 year, where Year 5 students (Y5S) acted as mentors and tutors to Year 3 students (Y3S). An electronic survey was administered to evaluate student satisfaction.

Results: Fifty-one participants (73%) completed the survey. The response was overwhelmingly positive for most students, with free-text responses and Likert‑scale ratings indicating high levels of satisfaction across several parameters, including enjoyment, relevance and helpfulness to learning. 

Conclusion: PALM is well received by participants for its usefulness and enjoyment. Compulsory participation does not appear to compromise utility or student satisfaction; rather, this approach enables the programme’s widespread benefits to be delivered to all students, including those who may not have participated of their own volition.


peer-assisted learning; medical education; near-peer learning; peer tutoring

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