Peer assisted learning resource pack for PEs

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Peer Assisted Learning activities

Peer Assisted Learning Resource Pack

A guide for Practice Educators

London Cluster Placements Team

January 2012

Welcome to the London Cluster Peer Assisted Learning Resource Pack

This resource pack has been developed by the London Cluster Placements Team to support Practice Educators to incorporate peer assisted learning activities into clinical placements offered to dietetic students.

It is anticipated that Practice Educators will select the most relevant activities to support the stage of the students placement, the students key areas for skill development and the resources available in their clinical setting. It is also anticipated that activities will be adapted to meet specific student or service requirements.

If you are accessing this pack electronically, you can navigate to a specific section from the contents page by hovering over the page number with your mouse, pressing Ctrl and then pressing the left click on your mouse.

If you have any queries about the resources in this pack, please contact a member of the London Cluster Placements Team on either: or



41.1.Introduction to Peer Assisted learning (PAL)

41.2.Using PAL for dietetic placements learning activities

51.3.Essential components to a successful PAL activity


61.3.2.Facilitated debrief sessions


7Peer feedback

7Supervisor feedback

81.3.4.Using PAL activities as evidence towards assessment

81.4.Frequently asked questions

81.4.1.Supporting students who are not getting on with each other

91.4.2.Supporting students who are progressing at different rates


102.1.Expectations and Orientation

112.2.Policies and procedures

112.3.Role of the Dietitian/ Dietetic Assistant

122.4.Meal Production Activity

132.5.Meal Service Activity

132.6.Ward Orientation

152.7.Dietetic Shadowing

172.8.Doctor and Nurse Observation activity

183.Assessment - Anthropometry

193.1.Commonly used anthropometric variables

193.2.Estimating anthropometric measurements

203.3.Choosing appropriate anthropometric variables to use

203.4.Gathering anthropometric data

214.Assessment - Biochemistry

224.1.Identifying relevant biochemical parameters

224.2.Identifying abnormal biochemistry

234.3.Biochemistry and dietetic interventions

234.4.Assessing biochemistry

245.Assessment - Clinical

245.1Medical notes familiarisation activity part 1 of 2

255.2.Medical notes familiarisation activity Part 2 of 2

265.3.Medication familiarisation activity

285.4.Familiarisation with unfamiliar clinical conditions

296.Assessment - Dietary

296.1.Compilation of oral nutrition support and enteral feed ready reckoner

296.2.Differing approaches to gathering dietary information

306.3.Qualitative and quantitative assessments of dietary intake

306.4.Food record charts/food diaries

317.Assessment - Environmental




338.Nutrition and dietetic diagnosis

338.1.Identifying nutritional priorities

338.2.Identifying dietetic diagnosis statements

349.Intervention, planning and implementation

349.1.Identifying dietetic management goals

359.2.Implementing dietetic management goals

359.2.1.Devising implementation plans

359.2.2.Implementing the dietetic care process

3610.Monitoring and evaluation

3610.1.Identifying appropriate follow-up arrangements

3610.2.Identifying appropriate outcome measures

3710.3.Reviewing dietetic interventions

1. Introduction1.1.Introduction to Peer Assisted learning (PAL)Peer Assisted Learning has been defined by a number of different people:To get knowledge through study, experience, observation or teaching of an equal (Lincoln et al, 1993)

Peers helping each other to learn (Crouch et al, 2001)

Individuals with equal status actively help and support each other in learning tasks (Ladyshewsky 2006)

The Oxford dictionary defines a peer as an equal in civil standing or rank or equal in any respect

Ladyshewsky (2006) states that PAL is a natural way of learning or completing tasks if the same task has been set for more than one person and that it is a way of pooling resources and reducing duplication of effort. In essence PAL is a way of increasing knowledge and skills by working in partnership with someone else.

There is a substantial amount of medical and allied health professional research in using PAL to enhance student learning (Cate & Durning 2007, Field et al 2007, Roberts et al 2009a & b) but little in the way of practical guidance.

1.2.Using PAL for dietetic placements learning activities

Students are usually allocated to placements in even numbers so as they are able to work in pairs. PAL activities can be used to facilitate induction into a new clinical area and support the development of key skills in assessment, identifying nutrition and dietetic diagnoses, planning and implementing interventions and reviewing, monitoring and evaluating dietetic interventions. PAL activities can also support the development of key professional skills such as communication skills, team working and reflective practice skills. Sections 2 10 of this resource pack include suggestions for PAL activities to support skill development in a range of areas. 1.3.Essential components to a successful PAL activity1.3.1.Planning

Pairing students

We suggest that you either pair students randomly or if appropriate take transport arrangements into account. If you are basing students at sites that are some distance from each other than it would make sense to pair students according to who lives nearest the site at which they will be based. If the students will be required to make frequent visits to community clinics then it may be sensible to pair drivers or car owners with non-drivers. It is not advisable to allow students to select their own pairings as there may be one person in the group that everyone would prefer not to work with. Randomly allocating partners avoids making this obvious.

Although it can be useful to take learning styles into account when planning activities for students and might therefore seem sensible to put students with similar learning styles together, often students with complementary learning styles make good pairs. The activists tendency to jump in and have a go can be tempered by the reflector who might prefer to watch someone else before performing the activity themselves. The problem with this type of complementary pairing is that it can then be difficult to move the students beyond their comfort zone and encourage them to develop a more rounded learning style. It is important that the students are encouraged to be explicit with their peer about their individual learning style to support their effective peer working.Planning for activitiesIt is essential to plan a PAL activity to ensure that the exercise meets its aims and objectives and facilitates a valuable learning experience. Core components of a PAL activity will include:

An opportunity to brief the students in relation to the expectations of the activity Time for the students to complete the activity, including designated time for peer discussion and reflection Opportunity for a facilitated debrief with a supervisor and individualised feedback (see section 1.3.2 for further information)

Sections 2 10 of this resource pack include a series of briefing sheets for Practice Educators for a range of PAL activities. These briefing sheets have been designed to support you in planning PAL activities and include details of the aims and objectives of the activity and the resources required for the students to successfully complete the activity. It is envisaged that activities may need to be modified to suit individual learning environments and so this resource pack is meant to support practice educators to develop tailored PAL activities rather than be a definitive list of activities that can be used. 1.3.2.Facilitated debrief sessions

Debrief sessions can take two formats, debriefs following individual PAL activities and student led facilitated group discussions.

Debriefs following individual PAL activities

It is important that students have the opportunity to debrief from a PAL activity to consolidate learning and identify specific learning needs. Debrief sessions should be arranged as part of the planning of a PAL activity and should happen as near to the activity as possible. It may be helpful to prepare specific questions to direct the debrief session or you may want to ask the students to lead the direction of the session. It is particularly important that all students have the opportunity to participate in the debrief session. Students should be encouraged to be prepared to speak about the entire activity and not just the section they complete to promote a more holistic learning experience. Student led facilitated group sessions

Student led facilitated group sessions also provide an important opportunity for students to meet and share their learning experiences. If you are only working with two students, it may be most appropriate to timetable these sessions at times when they are working more independently of each other to facilitate ongoing peer support and shared learning. In cases where there are only two students attached to one