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Med Educ. 2010 Feb;44(2):148-55. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.2009.03557.x. Epub 2009 Dec 21.

Peer teaching: a randomised controlled trial using student-teachers to teach musculoskeletal ultrasound.

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Department of Trauma Surgery, Medical Faculty, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany.



This study (a post-intervention assessment) was designed to assess the effectiveness of peer-assisted learning (PAL) using student-teachers (STs) with limited training to teach complicated technical skills for interpreting ultrasound images of the shoulder.


Students in Years 3 and 4 of medical school were randomly assigned to two groups. In the PAL group (PG), teaching was delivered by a group of nine STs from Years 3 and 4, who undertook a 30-minute general training and 1 week of self-teaching. In the staff-led group (SG), students were taught by a group of three ultrasound-experienced doctors. Exposure took place in two separate lessons (each of 120 minutes) and introduced eight standard sectional planes (EULAR) using a 10-MHz Nemio XG system (Toshiba Medical Systems GmbH). The theoretical and practical learning outcomes were tested using a multiple-choice question (MCQ) test and an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE). Qualitative differences were evaluated using Likert scale-based items.


Evaluation of differences between the PG (n = 75) and SG (n = 76) in the theoretical (MCQ score; P = 0.644) and practical (total OSCE score; P = 0.133) outcomes showed no difference between the two groups. However, the STs themselves showed significantly better results overall (P < 0.05). Staff members were rated more highly than STs, especially on items relating to competence (P < 0.05).


Complicated technical skills can be adequately taught to students using the PAL system by STs with limited training. Self-teaching learning strategies are successful in contexts of limited teacher training. However, despite positive objective results, STs still face prejudice from students with regard to competency.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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