Peer-Assisted Learning and Orthopaedic Evaluation Psychomotor Skills

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Weidner, Thomas G.
Popp, Jennifer K.
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athletic training education
peer education
peer teaching
clinical instruction
athletic training students
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Context: Athletic training educators often anecdotally suggest that athletic training students enhance their learning by teaching their peers. However, peer-assisted learning (PAL) has not been examined within athletic training education to provide evidence for PAL's current use or for its use as a pedagogic tool.

Objective: To assess the effectiveness of intentional, formal PAL on the performance of psychomotor skills and to identify students' perceptions of PAL.

Design: Randomized, pretest-posttest experimental design.

Setting: Athletic Training Research and Education Laboratory.

Patients or Other Participants: Fifty-one undergraduate students (27 athletic training majors, 24 nonmajors).

Intervention(s): Review sessions led by either an Approved Clinical Instructor or peer tutor.

Main Outcome Measure(s): We assessed pretest and posttest performance scores (number of correct skills) and the amount of time to complete the psychomotor skills in 3 categories of orthopaedic evaluation of the hand and wrist for subjects assigned to either a peer tutor or an Approved Clinical Instructor review group. Using the Athletic Training Peer-Assisted Learning Assessment Survey, we evaluated the perceptions of students assigned to the peer-tutor group regarding the benefits of, and preferences for, PAL.

Results: Differences in the pretest-posttest skill scores were noted in both groups (P < .05). No differences in the posttest skills scores or the times to perform the skills were seen between the groups. The Athletic Training Peer-Assisted Learning Assessment Survey revealed that most (n = 19, 70.4%) of the subjects felt less anxious when practicing psychomotor skills with peer tutors than with the laboratory instructor, and many students (n = 12, 44.4%) felt more self-confident when practicing psychomotor skills with a peer tutor.

Conclusions: Peer-assisted learning appears to be a valid method for improving athletic training psychomotor skills. Peers can be resources for practicing clinical skills and report benefiting from the collaboration. Peer-assisted learning should be deliberately integrated into athletic training education programs to enhance student learning and collaboration.