The Effect of Peer Learning vs. Traditional Learning on Knowledge and Clinical Performance of Critical Care Nursing Students

Intessar Mohamed Ahmad, Hala Eid Mohamed


Background: Clinical practice is a vital part of nursing education, and highly valued by student nurses. From a student perspective, the clinical environment can be perceived as stressful and not welcoming. Therefore, the relationship between the student and the instructor is fundamental to the learning process. Peer learning offers students the opportunity to learn from each other. Moreover, it was suggested that academic involvement and interaction with faculty and fellow students increases the time and physical and psychological energy that students devote to the academic experience. The positive effects of peer learning have been described as increased cognitive skills, self-confidence, autonomy, clinical skills and reasoning are highlighted. Furthermore, and perhaps more difficult to evaluate in other educational models, are increased self-evaluating skills, collaborative- and leadership abilities, critical thinking and the opportunity to share the experiences of a fellow student without the immediate interference of the preceptor. Aim: The study aimed to compare the effect of using peer learning versus traditional learning on the clinical performance of critical care nursing students. Methods: The study was conducted at the critical and emergency care nursing Department, Faculty of Nursing, Damanhour University using an experimental comparative design. 100 nursing students enrolled in the third year were selected randomly to participate in this study. These were divided into two groups randomly. - Group I (study group): consisted of 50 students who were similarly assigned into 10 subgroups of 5 students each and they were learned by their colleagues. Group II (control group) included the other 50 students who were similarly assigned to 2 skill labs in subgroups of 25 students each.Results: The finding of the current study indicates significantly better performance scores among peer learning group. This study revealed that the majority of the study group students were positively satisfied as regarding peer learning. Moreover, the  majority of the students in peer group stated that being taught by their peer increases interaction and collaboration with other students, they can communicate more freely with their peer than with their clinical instructor they don't feel freer to approach the instructor for help than their peer. However, they agreed that the feedback they received from their peers is more helpful and they learn more from their peer than from their clinical instructor. Furthermore, they expressed their belief that peer learning experience was worth the time spent and students felt more comfortable when the performance is being assessed by their peer.Conclusion: The results of this study confirm the results of the previous studies, emphasizing numerous positive effects of peer learning methods in the academic environment. The results of this study also suggest that peer-assisted learning increases the confidence, reduces anxiety and affects the development of students' future responsibilities. Therefore, the study recommends more utilization of this approach in nursing education, with training workshops aimed at changing the attitude of nurse educators towards the use of more innovative models of active learning such as peer learning.

Keywords: Peer learning, peer tutoring, traditional method, nursing students, clinical performance.

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