A Medical Science Educator Article Review From Dr. Jennifer A. Fischer

This month the IAMSE publications committee review is taken from the article titled “What Makes a Near-Peer Learning and Tutoring Program Effective in Undergraduate Medical Education: A Qualitative Analysis” published in Medical Science Educator (7 November 2022) by Seth McKenzie Alexander, Gary L. Beck Dallaghan, Michele Birch, Kelly Lacy Smith, Neva Howard, and Christina L. Shenvi. 

Promoting student success in undergraduate medical education is critical for all medical schools. This success leads to providing quality healthcare for patients, but at an institutional level student success also increases the quality of the student experience, student attrition, success on licensing exams, and achievement in residency programs. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and remote activities, we now have a cohort of students whose academic foundation often does not match previous education models. In light of this, identifying strategies that benefit learnerā€™s academic success can be critically important to undergraduate medical school performance.  

This article highlights a qualitative analysis on the effectiveness of a near-peer learning and tutoring program at the University of North Carolina. The survey-based study provides insight, from both learners and tutors, that were thematically analyzed to identify key areas for both groups. Responses examined learner benefits, descriptions of what made a successful tutoring relationship, and potential pitfalls. Survey results presented here can help guide tutor training at other institutions to support student academic success.  

The authorsā€™ findings showed important agreement between both learners and tutors to identify educational activities that were most helpful to the provision of successful tutoring sessions. The analysis also recognized key characteristics of learners beneficial to the learner-tutor relationship and traits a tutor needs to be successful.  As institutions seek to find strategies that enhance the learner experience and promote academic success, this research allows medical educators to consider what elements of peer tutoring programs support learner development. The utility of student tutors can work cooperatively with faculty and other programs to promote good academic standing and often provides an additional resource to improve learner achievement. 

Jennifer A. Fischer, PhDĀ 
Associate ProfessorĀ 
Department of Molecular BiologyĀ 
Rowan-Virtua School of Osteopathic MedicineĀ