A Retrospective Analysis of a Cross-Year Peer Tutoring Program for Oral Health Students

Sara N. Johnson, Keith A Mays

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Health professions education is extremely challenging for students, requiring high performance in fast-paced learning environments. In addition, the challenge of instructing students at many performance levels and the lack of teaching assistants can create a knowledge gap between educators and students. Using cross-year peer tutors is one potential method to close this gap and improve student performance. The aims of this study were to retrospectively evaluate the impact of a cross-year peer tutoring program on successful course completion of oral health students and to assess student and tutor perceptions of the experience. First- and second-year dental and dental therapy students were assigned to cross-year tutors as a result of progression committee recommendations and self-identification. Potential tutors were vetted by the course directors. The collected data included number of courses in which students were assigned a tutor, the type of course (lecture vs. lab), and students' success in the courses. These data were collected for a four-year period (2013-14 to 2016-17), and student and tutor perceptions were assessed in one year. The results showed that 94% of the students who received tutoring passed their courses. Students who had been tutored had a significantly lower failure rate than those who were not tutored (20% vs. 80%, respectively). These results suggest that the cross-year peer tutoring program was useful in closing the learning gap between instructors' expert level and novice learners. Participating students and tutors also perceived the program as a positive and beneficial experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-143
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of dental education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© American Dental Education Association

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • academic performance
  • dental education
  • dental students
  • educational methodology
  • peer tutoring
  • tutoring


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