Peer assisted learning (PAL) is one method of teaching which involves peers, or people from similar social groups, in reciprocal learning where one peer educates another and in return learns through the teaching experience. There have been many reported benefits of PAL programs. PAL has a long history of use in healthcare education; however, for paramedic education there is a paucity of literature. A pilot PAL project was undertaken in the Bachelor of Emergency Health (BEH) course at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. This study had two aims: i) to evaluate the effectiveness of the pilot PAL program, and ii) to compare academic grades between peer teachers and those not involved in the PAL program over 2011–2012. Forty-one students volunteered, with 23 students in 2011 and 18 in 2012. At the completion of their peer teaching, all students were asked to complete the 14-item Peer Teaching Experience Questionnaire (PTEQ).
Of the 41 students, 63.4% were female, 73.2% were under 25, 82.9% had been taught by peers previously, 31.7% had taught peers previously, and 51.2% had undertaken previous tertiary studies. Students strongly agreed teaching and leadership were important to the paramedic role. Students also strongly agreed that their peer teaching experience was personally rewarding, increased their knowledge and skills, and would be of direct benefit to them as a graduate paramedic. Moreover, students who participated in the PAL project as peer teachers obtained higher clinical marks on their final clinical examination than their non-PAL counterparts (2011 76.5% vs. 71.0%, p < .001, and 2012, 75.2% vs. 72.7%, p < .001). This study suggests PAL programs have a great potential to provide a wide range of benefits in paramedic courses. As this was a pilot program, there were many limitations and caution should be used in making any generalisations. However, the overwhelmingly positive response from the students strongly suggests PAL programs should continue to be implemented in paramedic education.
Recommended CitationWilliams, Brett; Fellows, Holly; Eastwood, Kathryn; and Wallis, Jamie, Peer teaching experiences of final year paramedic students: 2011-2012, Journal of Peer Learning, 7, 2014, 81-91.