Introduction: Peer-assisted learning (PAL) is an educational strategy that has yielded good results in the learning of clinical and research abilities. It has been implemented in the state of Nuevo León for the past seven years.
Aim. To describe our experience with Peer-Assisted learning in the critical appraisal of research during the undergraduate internship.
Method: For the past seven years and every semester, a course on the critical appraisal of research has been offered to undergraduate interns; the following study designs were included, case-control, diagnostic tests, cohorts,
randomized clinical trial, follow-up, meta-analysis, surveys and instruments. Students were evaluated at the beginning and at the end of the course. It lasted 16 weeks, and there were weekly meetings of 90 minutes. It included the critical review of articles, following a guideline with items that explored interpretation, judgment and proposals to the authors, all useful for discussion. Homework was
forwarded to the professor for evaluation. To reproduce the course, peer student tutors were selected according to their in-class presence, their homework, argumentation, empathy, high performance in the final evaluation and their voluntary acceptance. Between one and three peer tutors were assigned per group and they developed the previously mentioned course. The initial and final results in each group were compared with Wilcoxon´s test.
Results: Fifteen groups were formed, with 22 peer tutors and 242 undergraduate interns. Except for two, all groups advanced and succeeded (p<0.05).
Discussion: The results of implementing PAL in the critical appraisal of research reports in several generations of undergraduate interns, offers an alternative applicable to the development of teaching and research abilities in students. This activity should be formally supported in an extracurricular manner or be incorporated in the study plan since its benefits are valuable at the personal level, to the groups and to the institutions.
Keywords: Peer-assisted learning; critical appraisal