A vertical study programme for medical students: Peer-assisted learning in practice

  • Kam J
  • Tai J
  • Mitchell R
 et al. 
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Background: Monash University employs a vertically-integrated curriculum with cumulative knowledge testing throughout the course. To facilitate cross-year level revision, a vertical study programme (VESPA) was established using the principles of peer-assisted learning (PAL). Aim: To implement and evaluate VESPA in relation to defined objectives. Methods: Following from a successful pilot, a working group organised five 2 h VESPA sessions over the course of 2009. Each was case-based and study materials were provided. Participants were allocated to a group of 10-15 students of all year levels, and pre-interns acted as facilitators. Sessions were evaluated using a 10-question survey. Results: A total of 647 evaluation surveys were completed overall and participant numbers ranged from 79 to 182 per session. Of these, 624 (96%) agreed the case materials were easy to follow and 562 (87%) believed they allowed students from all year levels to contribute; 552 (85%) felt VESPA helped them understand curriculum content. There were no significant differences between sessions. Conclusions: VESPA represents an innovative application of PAL that has been well received by students. Potential benefits to participants include academic revision, the development of mentoring relationships and enhanced teaching and facilitation skills. This model of a structured revision programme would suit other settings with vertically-integrated curricula and assessment.

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  • J K Kam

  • J N Tai

  • R D Mitchell

  • E Halley

  • S Vance

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