Education in peer learning for allied health clinical educators: A mixed methods study

Samantha Sevenhuysen, Joanne Thorpe, Lisa A Barker, Jenny Keating, Elizabeth Molloy, Terry Haines


 Background: Peerassisted learning (PAL) may enhance learning opportunities for students placed in pairs, and address the demand for student placements. The study aimed to (1) evaluate the effect of providing education on PAL to clinical educators (CEs) on activities undertaken by students and (2) explore CE and student perceptions of the clinical education experience.

Method: Allied health CEs attended a workshop in PAL. Self-reported student activity was collected and CE responses to the education were measured using forms and survey tools. Qualitative data on student and CE experience were collected via focus groups. 

Results: CEs reported that the workshop was useful and significantly improved their confidence to facilitate PAL. CEs also reported a perceived change in clinical education practices. After the workshop, students reported being twice as likely to observe both their CE and peer perform a patient assessment, 34% less likely to be observed by their CE when performing a treatment and 40% less likely to work with patients independently (without CE or peer). The qualitative analysis revealed three themes: PAL enhanced the learning environment; additional skills and preparation are required for success; and PAL may present challenges associated with peer compatibility and time for individualised feedback.

Conclusions: Education in facilitating PAL improved perceived confidence of CEs. Student activity changed most significantly in the amount of peer and supervisor observation. Both students and CEs reported that PAL enhanced the learning environment but noted that education and preparation are important to mitigate challenges associated with sub-optimal peer relationships and individualised feedback.


peer‑assisted learning; clinical education; allied health

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