Analysis of dental students' written peer feedback from a prospective peer assessment protocol.Eur J Dent Educ. 2016 Nov; 20(4):241-247.EJ
Peer assessment and feedback is encouraged to enhance students' learning. The aim of this study was to quantitatively and qualitatively analyse pre-clinical and clinical dental students' written peer feedback provided as part of a continuous, formative and structured peer assessment protocol.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
A total of 309 Year-2 and Year-5 dental students were invited to participate in a peer assessment and peer feedback protocol. Consenting volunteer students were trained to observe each other whilst working in the skills laboratory (Year-2) and in the dental clinic (Year-5). Subsequently, they followed a structured protocol of peer assessment and peer feedback using specially designed work-based forms during a complete academic year. The content of their written feedback was coded according to the UK General Dental Council domain, sign (positive or negative), specificity (task specific or general), and grouped into themes.
A total of 108 participants (40 Year-2 and 68 Year-5) completed 1169 peer assessment work-based forms (516 pre-clinical and 653 clinical); 94% contained written feedback. The large majority (82%) of Year-2 feedback represented the clinical domain, 89% were positive, 77% were task specific, and they were grouped into 14 themes. Year-5 feedback was related mostly to Management and Leadership (37%) and Communication (32%), 64% were positive, 75% task specific, and they were clustered into 24 themes.
The content of the feedback showed notable differences between Year-2 and Year-5 students. Senior students focused more on Communication and Management and Leadership skills, whilst juniors were more concerned with clinical skills. Year-5 students provided 13% negative feedback compared to only 2% from Year-2. Regulatory focus theory is discussed to explain these differences. Both groups provided peer feedback on a wide and different range of themes. However, four themes emerged in both groups: efficiency, infection control, time management and working speed.
A structured peer assessment framework can be used to guide pre-clinical and clinical students to provide peer feedback focused on different domains, and on contrasting signs and specificities. It can also present an opportunity to complement tutors' feedback.