Comparing the effectiveness of peer assisted versus lecture based learning in community medicine nutrition course

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Health Professions Education (MPHE)


Educational Development


Research in medical education has highlighted discontentment with traditional didactic teaching approaches and have supported social and cognitive congruence in student learning. Peer assisted learning (PAL) is a widely reported collaborative educational strategy in medical schools, which has been used sparingly in Pakistan. The purpose of this study was to generate evidence on the applicability and effectiveness of same year PAL in comparison with the established method of lecturing and to understand the perceptions of learners about the two approaches. The research question focused on the association between gender and high school qualifications on effectiveness of PAL and lectures and the perceptions of learners. Mixed method study was conducted using randomized control trial and qualitative case study designs. Ninety nine study participants were recruited through convenience sampling technique from fourth year MBBS class of 2014. They were randomly allocated to the PAL and Lecture cohorts, for the Community Medicine, "Nutrition & Health" course. Multiple sources of information were employed, including questionnaire, checklist, pre and post-test scores and focus group discussion. Quantitative data was subjected to Chi square, Kruskal-Wallis, ANCOVA, independent sample and paired t tests. The qualitative data was analyzed by triangulation and identification of themes. Key findings indicate that learners embraced PAL as an effective educational strategy for independent cooperative learning, which they found to be gratifying and enjoyable. There was no difference in the academic achievements of the PAL and the Lecture cohorts. PAL can easily be integrated in the present medical curriculum as an adjunct strategy to interactive, learner centered lectures. The social significance of this study was to provide insight to other educators planning to implement similar programs, based on our experience.

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