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Med Educ. 2007 Sep;41(9):836-42. Epub 2007 Aug 1.

Assessment of professional behaviour in undergraduate medical education: peer assessment enhances performance.

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Center for Research and Innovation of Medical Education, University of Groningen and University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.



To examine whether peer assessment can enhance scores on professional behaviour, with the expectation that students who assess peers score more highly on professional behaviour than students who do not assess peers.


Undergraduate medical students in their first and second trimesters were randomly assigned to conditions with or without peer assessment. Of the total group of 336 students, 278 students participated in the first trimester, distributed over 31 tutorial groups, 17 of which assessed peers. The second trimester involved 272 students distributed over 32 groups, 15 of which assessed peers. Professional behaviour was rated by tutors on 3 dimensions: Task Performance; Aspects of Communication, and Personal Performance. The rating scale ranged from 1 (poor) to 10 (excellent). Data were analysed using multivariate repeated measures multilevel analysis.


Assessment scores were found to have generally increased in the second trimester, especially the personal performance scores of students who assessed peers. In addition, female students were found to have significantly higher scores than male students.


In undergraduate medical education, peer assessment has a positive influence on professional behaviour. However, the results imply that peer assessment is only effective after students have become adjusted to the complex learning environment.

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