Teaching my peers: Perceptions of tutors in physiotherapy practical skills training
Background. A near-peer tutorial system was introduced and implemented as part of a second-year module to assist physiotherapy students with the practising of manual techniques. Although not the primary drive for initiating this system, there are potential added benefits for the tutor reported in the literature.
Objective. To determine the effect of near-peer teaching on the perceptions undergraduate physiotherapy students have of their own learning.
Methods. A descriptive study utilising mixed methods was used. A pre-tutorial focus group discussion (FGD) format explored the expectations and perceptions of tutors’ own abilities and the proposed tutorial system. The researchers conducted a post-tutorial FGD to explore the experiences and perceptions of the tutors’ learning experiences. The responses were transcribed and analysed using deductive thematic analysis. A questionnaire was used to quantify which competencies or skills student tutors thought they had obtained through the facilitation of the tutorial sessions. The results were explored using a competency framework.
Results. All ten tutors in the 2012 programme participated in the study. Students moved from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence, and seemed to have reached the phase of conscious competence by the end of the programme. Unconscious competence was not observed. More than half of the tutors agreed that the programme had a positive impact on their communication, ability to transfer skills and their own understanding of techniques and underlying theory, while two tutors felt that the programme did not improve their own theoretical basis of techniques.
Conclusion. Participating and functioning as near-peer tutors had a positive influence on physiotherapy students’ perceptions of their own learning both in terms of own clinical technique competency, but also as teachers and facilitators of learning. It is hypothesised that these students will transition effectively between clinician and health advocator/teacher.