Academic achievement of students tutored by near-peers

Olle ten Cate1, Irene van de Vorst1 and Sjoukje van den Broek2

1Center for Research and Development of Education, University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands

2Department of Medical Education, University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands

Submitted: 03/06/2011; Accepted: 10/01/2012; Published: 18/01/2012

Int J Med Educ. 2012; 3:6-13; doi: 10.5116/ijme.4f0c.9ed2

© 2012 Olle ten Cate et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use of work provided the original work is properly cited. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Objectives: To compare the academic achievement of medical students tutored by near-peers and medical students tutored by faculty.

Methods: A retrospective comparison study was conducted. In a total of 36 courses, 24 medical student groups were tutored by either faculty members or near-peers, from 2005 to 2010. To compare academic achievement students we used the test scores for individual courses and a combined overall standardized score for all courses together.

Results: A total of 1201 and 8722 students were tutored by near-peers and faculty members, respectively. Of 36 courses, the mean test scores of five courses were higher for faculty members tutoring and the mean test scores of 29 courses were higher for near-peers tutoring. Additional analysis of standardized test scores showed that students who were tutored by peers outperformed students who were tutored by faculty members (t[sub](9921)[/sub]=5.345; P<0.05; Cohen's d=0.17).

Conclusions: Our data suggest that junior medical students are not put at a disadvantage when being tutored by senior medical students. It appears that near-peer tutoring has at least similar benefits as faculty tutoring.