Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics


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COMSEP 2007 San Antonio Meeting

Poster Presentation:

Peer-facilitated Virtual Action Learning Sets Enhance Learning and Reflective Thinking on a Pediatric Clerkship to Reach Excellence in Practice


 Maria Marquez, MD1; Margaret Plack, PT, EdD2; Maryanne Driscoll, PhD3; Larrie Greenberg, MD2

1Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, DC
2George Washington University, Washington, DC
3Touro College, New York, New York

 Background: Reflection enables students to revisit and analyze their experiences for deeper understanding. Medical students as learners require access to clinical challenges; dialogue to develop shared meaning; professional development with peers and supervisors support.

Objective: Determine the impact of peer-facilitated virtual action learning sets on learning.

Design/Methods: Twenty-four third-year medical students on a pediatric clerkship were introduced to reflection and action learning and randomly assigned to 6 virtual action learning sets. During the clerkship each student posted one critical incident on electronic Blackboard. Group members responded to facilitate reflection and deeper thinking about the incident. Students then revisited their incidents based on insight gained. Student's perceptions were assessed using visual analog scales and open ended questions.

Results: Twenty-four critical incidents, 72 responses and 24 revised incidents were analyzed qualitatively for content and outcome themes. Content themes indicate that students were challenged most by: role identification (22/24), communication (15/24), medical treatment concerns (9/24) and limited voice and power (8/24). Outcomes themes indicate that action learning sets helped students broaden their perspectives (14/24), confirm their thinking (5/24) or question their assumptions (5/24). Nine students rated the experience as helpful to very helpful; 8 as neutral; and 7 as less than helpful. Eleven rated peer-input as helpful to very helpful; 10 as neutral; and 3 as less than helpful.

Conclusions: Virtual action learning sets encourage peer-facilitated reflection and deeper thinking. Peer support can facilitate professional learning to third year medical students. It assists to analyze the challenges they face in the clinical setting.