Does peer-assisted learning improve academic performance? A scoping review

Brett Williams, Priya Reddy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Due to the diverse and ever-changing nature of the healthcare industry, teaching pedagogies such as peer-assisted learning (PAL) are being implemented to align with external competency standards. A scoping review was conducted in order to map the breadth of literature available on PAL and its impact on student performance. Method: This review used Arksey and O'Malley's six stage scoping methodology. The databases searched included: Cinahl, Ovid Medline, Proquest and Embase as well as grey literature sites and dissertations. Results: 22 articles were included in this review, 10 of which were mixed methods randomised controlled trials, one retrospective study, four controlled trials, two randomised cross over controlled trial, three prospective randomised controlled trials, one thesis and one comparative research design. Analysis of the included articles identified three major themes outlining student performance. Student teachers themselves showed the most significant improvement in objective outcomes. The predominant healthcare field addressed were medical students with very few studies being completed on other professions. Conclusions: The search indicated an overall positive response to PAL with the measurable outcome of student tutors being of most significance. Further research is required to determine the relevance for the wider healthcare community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-29
Number of pages7
JournalNurse Education Today
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016


  • "Near peer teaching"
  • "Peer assisted learning"
  • Education
  • Health occupations
  • Professional
  • Students

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