Peer-assisted learning in the athletic training clinical setting

J Athl Train. 2006 Jan-Mar;41(1):102-8.


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 in order to provide evidence for its current use or as a pedagogic tool.

Objective: To describe the prevalence of PAL in athletic training clinical education and to identify students' perceptions of PAL.

Design: Descriptive.

Setting: "The Athletic Training Student Seminar" at the National Athletic Trainers' Association 2002 Annual Meeting and Clinical Symposia.

Patients or other participants: A convenience sample of 138 entry-level male and female athletic training students.

Main outcome measure(s): Students' perceptions regarding the prevalence and benefits of and preferences for PAL were measured using the Athletic Training Peer-Assisted Learning Assessment Survey. The Survey is a self-report tool with 4 items regarding the prevalence of PAL and 7 items regarding perceived benefits and preferences.

Results: A total of 66% of participants practiced a moderate to large amount of their clinical skills with other athletic training students. Sixty percent of students reported feeling less anxious when performing clinical skills on patients in front of other athletic training students than in front of their clinical instructors. Chi-square analysis revealed that 91% of students enrolled in Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs-accredited athletic training education programs learned a minimal to small amount of clinical skills from their peers compared with 65% of students in Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Athletic Training-candidacy schools (chi2(3) = 14.57, P < .01). Multiple analysis of variance revealed significant interactions between sex and academic level on several items regarding benefits and preferences.

Conclusions: According to athletic training students, PAL is occurring in the athletic training clinical setting. Entry-level students are utilizing their peers as resources for practicing clinical skills and report benefiting from the collaboration. Educators should consider deliberately integrating PAL into athletic training education programs to enhance student learning and collaboration.