Enhancement of Student Performance in a Gross Anatomy Course With the Use of Peer Tutoring

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The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of a peer tutoring system developed for a gross anatomy course using both academic performance and perceived value of peer tutoring as measures. The subjects were students enrolled in the first professional year of a physical therapy program. Grades from 117 students enrolled in a gross anatomy course were compared with their grades from a previous anatomy course. Forty-eight students took the course prior to the development of a peer tutoring system, and 69 students took the course following induction of peer tutoring. In addition to the review of student grades, students who were involved in the peer tutoring system were surveyed about how they valued the peer tutoring sessions. There was a decline in grades the students received in the clinical gross anatomy course when compared with their grades in the introductory anatomy course in both tutored and nontutored groups. The decline, however, was significantly less (P=.015) in the tutored group of students than in the nontutored group of students. Tutored students reacted very favorably to the tutoring sessions and expressed a desire to see tutoring expanded to other courses. This was the first demonstration of the effectiveness of peer tutoring in college science teaching. Peer tutoring appears to be effective in enhancing student performance as well as being perceived as beneficial by the students.

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