Introduction: Peer assessment is increasingly used in health education. The aims of this study were to evaluate the reliability, accuracy, educational impact and student's perceptions of undergraduate pre-clinical and clinical dental students' structured and prospective Peer assessment and peer feedback protocol. Materials and methods: Two Direct Observation of Procedural Skills (DOPS) forms were modified for use in pre-clinical and clinical peer assessment. Ten year two dental students working in a phantom-heads skills laboratory and 16-year five dental students attending a comprehensive care clinic piloted both peer DOPS forms. After training, pairs of students observed, assessed and provided immediate feedback to each other using their respective peer DOPS forms as frameworks. At the end of the 3-month study period, students anonymously provided their perceptions of the protocol. Results: Year 2 and year 5 students completed 57 and 104 peer DOPS forms, respectively. The generalizability coefficient was 0.62 for year 2 (six encounters) and 0.67 for year 5 (seven encounters). Both groups were able to differentiate amongst peer-assessed domains and so detect improvement in peers' performance over time. Peer DOPS scores of both groups showed a positive correlation with their mean end-of-year examination marks (r ≥ 0.505, P ≥ 0.051) although this was not statistically significant. There was no difference (P ≥ 0.094) between the end-of-year examination marks of the participating students and the rest of their respective classes. The vast majority of both groups expressed positive perceptions of the piloted protocol. Discussion: There are no data in the literature on the prospective use of peer assessment in the dental undergraduate setting. In the current study, both pre-clinical and clinical students demonstrated the ability to identify those domains where peers performed better, as well as those which needed improvement. Despite no observable educational impact, most students reported positive perceptions of the peer DOPS protocol. Conclusions: The results of this pilot study support the need for and the potential benefit of a larger- and longer-term follow-up study utilising the protocol.
- Direct Observation of Procedural Skills
- Peer assessment
- Peer feedback