An analysis of peer, self, and tutor assessment in problem-based learning tutorials

Med Teach. 2007 Jun;29(5):e122-32. doi: 10.1080/01421590701294323.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to explore self-, peer-, and tutor assessment of performance in tutorials among first year medical students in a problem-based learning curriculum.

Methods: One hundred and twenty-five students enrolled in the first year of the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery Program at the University of Queensland were recruited to participate in a study of metacognition and peer- and self-assessment. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected from the assessment of PBL performance within the tutorial setting, which included elements such as responsibility and respect, communication, and critical analysis through presentation of a case summary. Self-, peer-, and tutor assessment took place concurrently.

Results: Scores obtained from tutor assessment correlated poorly with self-assessment ratings (r = 0.31-0.41), with students consistently under-marking their own performance to a substantial degree. Students with greater self-efficacy, scored their PBL performance more highly. Peer-assessment was a slightly more accurate measure, with peer-averaged scores correlating moderately with tutor ratings initially (r = 0.40) and improving over time (r = 0.60). Students consistently over-marked their peers, particularly those with sceptical attitudes to the peer-assessment process. Peer over-marking led to less divergence from the tutor scoring than under-marking of one's own work.

Conclusion: According to the results of this study, first-year medical students in a problem-based learning curriculum were better able to accurately judge the performance of their peers compared to their own performance. This study has shown that self-assessment of process is not an accurate measure, in line with the majority of research in this domain. Nevertheless, it has an important role to play in supporting the development of skills in reflection and self-awareness.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Adult
  • Attitude*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • Educational Measurement / methods*
  • Educational Status
  • Faculty, Medical
  • Humans
  • Peer Group*
  • Problem-Based Learning*
  • Queensland
  • Regression Analysis
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Self-Evaluation Programs
  • Social Perception*
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires