Can students adequately evaluate the activities of their peers in PBL?

Med Teach. 2011;33(2):145-50. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2010.509766. Epub 2010 Sep 27.


Background: In problem-based learning (PBL), high-quality discussions are crucial for student learning. The quality of the discussion is affected by the quality of the contributions students make during PBL tutorials.

Aim: This study investigated whether students are able to evaluate the activities of their peers in PBL groups in a reliable and valid way.

Method: For this purpose, the Maastricht-Peer Activity Rating Scale (M-PARS) was developed. The M-PARS was well-founded on the literature about effective tutorial performance. With this scale, students (N = 196) were evaluated by their peers on three main aspects: their constructive, collaborative, and motivational contributions to the group.

Results: A confirmatory factor analysis demonstrated that the data fitted the three-factor model reasonably well. The generalizability studies demonstrated good internal consistency when students were evaluated by, at least, four of their peers. Furthermore, Hancock's coefficients indicated good construct reliability.

Conclusions: The results prove that peers are able to provide reliable and valid information about a student's active participation in the tutorial group, if at least four peer ratings are attainable, out of a group of eight students. In conclusion, the M-PARS is a valid and reliable instrument.

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Feedback
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Peer Group*
  • Problem-Based Learning / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Students, Medical*