Peer-Assisted Learning in Dental Students’ Patient Case Evaluations: An Assessment of Reciprocal Learning

Taylor Hunt, Tobie Jones, Patricia A. Carney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Little research exists on reciprocal learning, a type of peer-assisted learning in which students act concurrently as both teacher and learner in small groups. The aims of this pilot study were to assess the feasibility of using case-based reciprocal learning with dental students and to assess its impact on students’ satisfaction and perceived clinical reasoning, educational value, and use of evidence-based dentistry. In this quasi-experimental mixed methods study conducted in 2018, small-group sessions led by a third-year dental student were designed to expose second-year students to clinical portfolios prior to clinical rotations, promote evidence-based dentistry, and improve students’ clinical critical thinking skills by having them work in small groups to teach and learn from each other. After the intervention, all 76 students in the sessions were invited to complete a survey with 11 Likert-scale items and six open-response questions assessing their engagement in learning, perceived educational value, and perceived quality of facilitation associated with reciprocal learning. Sixty-five students completed the surveys for a response rate of 86%. Among the survey respondents, 87.7% agreed/strongly agreed that the small groups facilitated enhanced learning, and 66.2% agreed/strongly agreed that they learned the material better because they had to teach it to their peers. Also, 74.6% agreed/strongly agreed that their clinical critical thinking improved, and 92.3% agreed/strongly agreed that they felt better prepared to complete a patient portfolio once they reach clinic. This study found that reciprocal learning had favorable outcomes in terms of students’ perceptions of learning. The students reported that the small groups enhanced their learning, improved their comfort in asking questions in small groups, and exposed them to a variety of clinical situations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-349
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of dental education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • dental education
  • dental students
  • peer teaching
  • peer-assisted learning
  • reciprocal learning
  • teaching method

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Dentistry


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