Purpose: The aim of our study was to evaluate the outcomes of peer learning in the clinical education of nursing students by comparing the points of view between junior and senior students, and their tutors. The secondary aim of this study was to compare the level of anxiousness perceived by junior and senior students in specific situations experienced during clinical education.
Design: A qualitative descriptive study. Materials and Methods: A sample of 60 junior and 28 senior students was selected to anonymously respond to ad-hoc questionnaires. A Focus Group was used to evaluate the tutors’ experience. A tool validated by Kleehammer, Hart & Fogel Keck (1990) to study the causes of anxiety in students during clinical education was used with some modifications.
Results: Fifty junior students and 26 senior students responded to the questionnaire on peer learning and 6 expert tutors took part in a Focus Group. The students showed a good level of agreement on the positive effects of peer learning. Also the tutors gave positive evaluations and expressed a good level of satisfaction. Statistically significant differences were observed in the responses between the two groups of students on some items regarding the atmosphere and communication between students and the role of senior students in helping junior students learn professional competences. The importance of the tutors’ significant and constant support in preventing and addressing the difficulties of the senior students in their role as educators was also highlighted. The results obtained from the questionnaires on situations triggering anxiety during clinical apprenticeship showed that senior students had a higher level of anxiety than the junior students.
Conclusions: Results confirmed the positive effects of peer learning reported by other studies in literature on junior and senior students as well as on tutors. The point of view of the ward nurses involved in the study still needs to be documented.
Clinical relevance: These results provided indications on how to improve the peer learning project implemented in the Faculty where the study was conducted and could be used for similar projects in other settings.
Key words: Peer learning, peer mentoring, peer coaching, peer group