Using peer learning in master thesis course
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Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
Publication date: 2023-10-24
Corresponding author
Ewa Andersson   

Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
Eur J Midwifery 2023;7(Supplement 1):A103
Writing a thesis can be emotionally and psychologically difficult for students, especially if they feel they have not received enough support from their supervisor. Peer learning is an effective and supportive way to enhance students’ learning and involves students collaborating and learning from each other under the teachers’ supervision. Doing peer learning can help solidify students’ knowledge, promote metacognitive processes, and provide students with emotional and social support. The current aim was to establish peer learning experiences within a midwifery education thesis course to examine if i) it helped students’ learning and ii) improved their psychological well-being.

Material and Methods:
Students can choose their own thesis subject according to their area of interest and are assigned a supervisor with expertise in that field. Students work in pairs with one main supervisor. Two supervisors and their thesis students (n = 8-10 students in total) meet as a group three times during the thesis course for peer learning. All students prepare for the peer learning by i) coming with questions/concerns, ii) reading each other’s work, iii) providing feedback, and iv) listening and responding to each others’ psychological needs. During these three sessions, students actively discuss, and the teachers facilitate, the sessions. Each session has a theme according to the progress of the work, which the students agreed before the session. Additionally, peer learning also occurs from the supervisors, where the supervisors and examiners have three joint meetings throughout the course to further increase consensus regarding group supervision and the progress of the students’ theses.

Over the past three years, students’ thesis quality has improved, where examiners write fewer comments for further changes needed before passing, and no students are currently failing, as these major mistakes are caught earlier in the term, allowing them to be rectified. Furthermore, students, while still feeling time pressure, report less dramatic mood swings regarding writing their thesis, suggesting that the peer learning model provides them with needed emotional and social support. Additionally, supervisors report fewer misunderstandings at the end of the thesis course, noting that certain issues were prevented from getting worse by catching them earlier on. Supervisors further feel more secure in their supervisory roles via learning from each other and agreeing on how to handle situations that arise.

Using a peer learning model within the midwifery education thesis course can be a helpful way to improve the quality of theses, while also decreasing students’ stress. Furthermore, using peer learning with supervisors can help prevent issues from becoming larger and allow for consensus building to occur.

The authors have led this course. However, all insights are taken from student evaluations, and are not the authors’ opinions.
There is no funding for this research.
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