Students teaching students: evaluation of a "near-peer" teaching experience

Acad Radiol. 2013 Sep;20(9):1177-82. doi: 10.1016/j.acra.2013.04.004. Epub 2013 Jun 28.


Rationale and objectives: Teaching is an important skill. Academic physicians teach on a daily basis, and nearly all physicians occasionally teach colleagues and patients. There are generally few opportunities for medical students to learn teaching skills. We developed a novel "near-peer" teaching program in which fourth-year students cotaught first-year students.

Materials and methods: Eighteen fourth-year students enrolled in our institution's primary senior radiology elective learned the basics of ultrasound through a series of lectures and hands-on scanning sessions. Each fourth-year student, paired with a radiology resident or attending, then cotaught a first-year anatomy small group session. After instruction, voluntary surveys were administered to assess the perceived value of the "near-peer" teaching experience.

Results: Seventeen of 18 (94%) and 104 of 120 (87%) administered surveys were returned by fourth- and first-year students, respectively. Sixteen (94%) and 99 (95%) of the fourth- and first-year students reported they "enjoyed" or "really enjoyed" the near-peer teaching experience. Fourteen (82%) of the fourth years perceived improvement in their teaching skills and an increase in their knowledge. Only 8 (47%) of the fourth years thought they were "helpful" or "very helpful," though 92 (88%) of the first years identified their fourth-year co-instructors as "helpful" or "very helpful."

Conclusions: We piloted a novel "near-peer" program. Both senior and freshman students enjoyed the experience, and fourth years thought the session was educational for them as well. Although most fourth years did not judge themselves as helpful, first-year students overwhelmingly considered them a useful addition to the session.

Keywords: Medical students; education; evaluations; near-peer teaching.

MeSH terms

  • California
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Education, Medical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Educational Measurement / statistics & numerical data*
  • Peer Group*
  • Radiology / education*
  • Students, Medical / statistics & numerical data*