Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Pharmacy Students' Perceptions of and Attitudes towards Peer Assessment within a Drug Literature Evaluation Course

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Pharmacy Students' Perceptions of and Attitudes towards Peer Assessment within a Drug Literature Evaluation Course

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Peer assessment is the application of criteria and standards to evaluate and provide feedback on the work of peers or colleagues. (1) This practice is commonly used throughout a pharmacists' career whether during practice experiences, postgraduate training, or employment. For example, many pharmacists participate in the manuscript peer review process to maintain the integrity of pharmacy journals, and the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) endorses the use of peer reviews in annual faculty evaluations. (2,3) The practice of peer assessment also has positive benefits for college students as it promotes critical thinking and development of self-assessment skills. (4)

Numerous studies on the use of peer assessment in the academic setting have been conducted in doctor of medicine programs. (5-9) However, little information in this area is available about doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) programs. Kritikos and colleagues assessed the use of intergroup peer assessment in a problem-based learning (PBL) bachelor of pharmacy (BPharm) program at the University of Sydney, Australia. Students were asked to provide peer assessment as a group in the forms of a final grade and verbal feedback on other groups' clinical case presentations. The study also assessed students' perceptions of and attitudes towards the group peer assessment activity and found students generally agreed that they understood the assessment process (95.5%), that the process was an appropriate group assessment method (71.4%), and that students should assess peers (75.5%). However, the study also found that only 43.6% of students agreed that peers can assess fairly. (10) Further research is needed to evaluate pharmacy students' perceptions and attitudes towards individual peer assessment. The purpose of this study was to assess pharmacy students' perceptions of and attitudes towards the use of individual peer assessment within a drug literature evaluation course.

METHODS

Principles of Drug Information and Literature Evaluation is a 2-credit, required course offered during the fall semester to second-year pharmacy students at The Purdue University College of Pharmacy. The course is designed to teach students the basic skills necessary to access and provide drug information in pharmacy practice, including literature evaluation, verbal communication, and written communication. Multiple class discussions and written assignments facilitate development of these skills, with a focus on topics such as formulary management and practical implications of literature on the delivery of pharmaceutical care.

A convenience sample of 158 second-year pharmacy students enrolled in Principles of Drug Information and Literature Evaluation during the fall 2010 semester was identified. In groups of 2 to 3, students prepared a complete formulary drug monograph containing: a description of US Food and Drug Administration-approved indications, dosing and administration, pharmacology, and pharmacokinetics for the drug; efficacy data with support from 3 relevant clinical trials; safety data including common adverse effects and tolerability; medication safety considerations; and estimated budget impact. Students were asked to compare the monograph drug to a currently available formulary drug and recommend (with justification) whether the monograph drug should be added to the formulary. This was a long-term written assignment with 4 progress checkpoints throughout the semester.

Students also completed for each member of the group a standard peer assessment form that had been constructed by investigators and pretested by drug information academics. The assessment form contained standards related to work quality and work ethic that students used to assess their partner(s). Assessment was conducted using a 5-point Likert scale that ranged from strongly agree to strongly disagree. The form also asked for students' written feedback with regard to their partner's specific strengths and areas for improvement. …

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