Peer teaching among physical therapy students during human gross anatomy: Perceptions of peer teachers and students



Despite nearly 200 accredited entry-level physical therapist education programs in the United States that culminate in a doctoral degree, only a paucity of reports have been published regarding the efficacy of peer teaching in gross anatomy. No one has described the usefulness of peer teaching from the viewpoint of the peer teacher. An organized peer teaching method provided by four second-year doctors of physical therapy (DPT) students in a semester course in gross anatomy had a positive impact on the academic performance in gross anatomy of first-year DPT students. The unique feature of the weekly peer teaching sessions was a packet assembled by the second-year peer teachers, which contained diagrams, fill-in-the blank questions, and helpful mnemonic devices. This study surveyed perceptions of first-year DPT students in response to a peer teaching method, using a structured 10-item questionnaire and a five-point Likert scale. Second-year DPT peer teachers provided written reflections about the benefits and challenges of serving as a peer teacher. Results revealed that 13 planned peer-teaching experiences provided by four second-year DPT students were valuable and promoted a firm understanding of anatomical relationships important for the clinical competence of physical therapist students. Moreover, peer teachers acknowledged acquiring clinically desirable teaching, academic, organizational, and time management skills from the experience. As a result, physical therapist educators may wish to consider this model of peer teaching to augment their teaching strategies for a class in gross human anatomy. Anat Sci Ed 1:199–206, 2008. © 2008 American Association of Anatomists.