Using peer feedback to enhance nursing students' reflective abilities, clinical competencies, and sense of empowerment: A mixed-methods study

Nurse Educ Pract. 2023 May:69:103623. doi: 10.1016/j.nepr.2023.103623. Epub 2023 Mar 28.


Aim: To assess the use of a framework to provide structured peer feedback and compare the effects of peer video feedback, peer verbal feedback versus faculty feedback on nursing students and peer tutors' learning outcomes and experiences BACKGROUND: Peer feedback has been utilized widely in health professions education to fill the gap for timely feedback, but some students were concerned with its quality, leading to perceptions that peer feedback may not be useful.

Design: Sequential explanatory mixed-methods study METHODS: The study took place from January to February 2022. In phase 1, a quasi-experimental pretest-posttest design was used. First-year nursing students (n = 164) were allocated to peer video feedback, peer verbal feedback or faculty feedback arms. Senior nursing students (n = 69) were recruited to be peer tutors or the control group. The Groningen Reflective Ability Scale was used by first-year students to assess their reflective abilities, while the Simulation-based Assessment Tool was used by peer or faculty tutors to evaluate nursing students' clinical competence of a nursing skill during the simulation. The Debriefing Assessment for Simulation in Healthcare-Student Version was used by students to assess their peer/faculty tutors' feedback quality. Senior students' empowerment levels were measured using the Qualities of an Empowered Nurse scale. In phase 2, six semi-structured focus group discussions with peer tutors (n = 29) were conducted and thematically analyzed.

Results: Peer video feedback and peer verbal feedback significantly improved students' reflective abilities but not in the faculty feedback arm. Students' clinical competence in a technical nursing skill significantly improved in all three arms. Improvements were significantly larger in those receiving peer video feedback and peer verbal feedback than faculty feedback, with no significant differences between peer video feedback and peer verbal feedback. Debriefing Assessment for Simulation in Healthcare-Student Version scores were not significantly different among the 3 arms. Empowerment levels of peer tutors significantly improved after providing peer feedback but not those in the control group. Seven themes were generated from the focus group discussions.

Conclusions: Although peer video feedback and peer verbal feedback were similarly effective in improving clinical competencies, peer video feedback was more time-consuming and stressful to students. The use of structured peer feedback improved peer tutors' feedback practices and were comparable to quality of faculty feedback. It also significantly increased their sense of empowerment. Peer feedback was widely supported by peer tutors who agreed that it should supplement faculty teaching.

Keywords: Clinical competency; Empowerment; Nursing students; Peer feedback; Reflection; Simulation-based learning.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Faculty
  • Feedback
  • Humans
  • Peer Group
  • Students, Nursing*