Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics


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COMSEP 2008 Atlanta Meeting

Other Works of Interest:

Assessing the Value of Peer Evaluations During Third Year Pediatric Clerkships

James Stallworth, MD
University of South Carolina School of Medicine

Reports on the use of peer assessment for constructive feedback are limited in the medical education literature. No reports could be found that isolated peer assessments from students on their pediatric rotation. Furthermore, the impact of peer evaluations on the students themselves and whether those evaluations change behavior have been minimally explored.
The Department of Pediatrics has obtained anonymous peer evaluations within clerkship groups for the past four years. Students are supplied with an open ended forum whereby they provide evaluations on each member of their group. The responses are collected by the clerkship director, formalized constructively, and become part of the overall course evaluation but do not affect the final grade. 
1.             To identify the impact of peer evaluations during the third year pediatric clerkship on individual medical students.
2.             To determine if third year clerkship students value the content of evaluations completed by their peers.
3.             To determine if peer evaluations are an acceptable method of evaluation to third year clerkship students.
Methods: During the summer of 2007, 234 students were mailed surveys. 110 students responded anonymously except by year of graduation. All students had completed their pediatric clerkship within the last four years. A sixteen question Likert scale questionnaire with one open ended comment section was used.
Results: The majority of students agreed that the content of the peer evaluations was accurate and beneficial. They reported that the evaluations positively impacted their communication skills with patients and peers. Students reported a positive impact on personal and professional behavior. Sixty percent of responders disagreed that the experience resulted in some actual behavior change. Students preferred faculty evaluations over open-ended peer evaluations secondary to the belief that popularity and social pressure affect feedback content.
This study adds to the body of literature on medical student peer evaluations. However, the best strategy to obtain valid data from these types of medical student evaluations has yet to be determined.