Near-peer teaching in anatomy: An approach for deeper learning

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Abstract

Peer teaching has been recognized as a valuable and effective approach for learning and has been incorporated into medical, dental, and healthcare courses using a variety of approaches. The success of peer teaching is thought to be related to the ability of peer tutors and tutees to communicate more effectively, thereby improving the learning environment. Near-peer teaching involves more experienced students acting as tutors who are ideally placed to pass on their knowledge and experience. The advantage of using near-peer teachers is the opportunity for the teacher to reinforce and expand their own learning and develop essential teaching skills. This study describes the design and implementation of a program for fourth year medical students to teach anatomy to first- and second-year medical students and evaluates the perceptions of the near-peer teachers on the usefulness of the program, particularly in relation to their own learning. Feedback from participants suggests that the program fulfills its aims of providing an effective environment for developing deeper learning in anatomy through teaching. Participants recognize that the program also equips them with more advanced teaching skills that will be required as they move nearer toward taking on supervisory and teaching duties. The program has also provided the school with an additional valuable and appropriate resource for teaching anatomy to first- and second-year students, who themselves view the inclusion of near-peer teachers as a positive element in their learning. Anat Sci Educ 2:227–233, 2009. © 2009 American Association of Anatomists.

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