Peer tutor-led small group sessions are a valuable learning strategy but students may lack confidence in the absence of a content expert. This study examined whether faculty reinforcement of peer tutor-led small group content was beneficial.
Two peer tutor-led small group sessions were compared with one faculty-led small group session using questionnaires sent to student participants and interviews with the peer tutors. One peer tutor-led session was followed by a lecture with revision of the small group content; after the second, students submitted a group report which was corrected and returned to them with comments.
Student participants and peer tutors identified increased discussion and opportunity for personal reflection as major benefits of the peer tutor-led small group sessions, but students did express uncertainty about gaps in their learning following these sessions. Both methods of subsequent faculty reinforcement were perceived as valuable by student participants and peer tutors. Knowing in advance that the group report would be corrected reduced discussion in some groups, potentially negating one of the major benefits of the peer tutor-led sessions.
Faculty reinforcement of peer-tutor led small group content benefits students but close attention should be paid to the method of reinforcement.