Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) in the vet curriculum

Development and evaluation of Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) in the veterinary curriculum: platform for a new undergraduate Certificate in Veterinary Medical Education.

Principal applicant: Dr Neil Hudson, School of Veterinary Studies


  • Dr Catriona Bell, School of Veterinary Studies
  • Professor Susan Rhind, School of Veterinary Studies
  • Dr Ian Handel, School of Veterinary Studies
  • Dr Richard Mellanby, School of Veterinary Studies


Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) is a valid and effective tool which is increasingly being used in the training of healthcare professionals. We hypothesise that PAL is a valuable teaching methodology which enhances the learning of both PAL tutors and tutees. We aim to evaluate the use of PAL in the training area of veterinary clinical examination, primarily equine and canine, and use the results of our study to help develop and support the BVM&S curriculum.

1st year, 2nd year, Graduate Entry tutees and 4th year PAL tutors will be asked to evaluate the PAL teaching that they have received/delivered using standardised surveys. Qualitative and quantitative evaluations will be carried out on the data, and additional surveys of teaching staff will be undertaken. Themes will be extracted and form the basis of focus group interviews; information will be gathered, transcribed, coded and analysed. In addition, we will develop a clinical examination OSCE for formative assessment and feedback. This will form part of the assessment of the impact of the PAL experience on student (both tutor and tutee) performance.

To give the students recognition of their important role in teaching and learning processes, we will develop a new Undergraduate Certificate in Veterinary Medical Education. The students will use their experiences and evaluations of PAL and other teaching initiatives, including widening participation activities, as part of the formal requirements of the Certificate.

We anticipate that this study will inform and facilitate longitudinal improvements in teaching and learning processes and curriculum development as they relate to transition through University and into postgraduate life.

This study will form the research component of an MSc in Veterinary Education.

Final Project Report

You can download the final project report below:

Final Report (PDF)

Other Project Outcomes

Journal papers:  

Hudson, N., Stansbie, N., Rhind, S., Brown, G., Handel, I., Mellanby, R. and Bell, C. (2015). Recognising and developing students as teachers: introduction of a novel Undergraduate Certificate in Veterinary Medical Education. Medical Teacher. Doi:10.3109/0142159X.2015.1078891.


Poster 1, Poster 2

Public engagement and community links:   

Teaching Matters, University of Edinburgh web pages

Liberton High School, Edinburgh, Newsletter May 2015: featured Dick Vet visit as part of UCVME workshops.

Conference abstracts

Hudson, N.P.H., Stansbie, N.H., Rhind, S.M., Handel, I.G., Mellanby, R.J. and Bell, C.E. (2014) Peer assisted learning (PAL) in veterinary clinical training: an increasing role in the Edinburgh veterinary undergraduate curriculum.  Proceedings of the 2014 Veterinary Education (VetEd) Conference, Bristol, UK.

Stansbie, N.H., Hudson, N.P.H., Rhind, S.M., Handel, I.G., Mellanby, R.J. and Bell, C.E. (2014) Evaluation of peer assisted learning (PAL) as a teaching methodology for veterinary clinical examination training. Proceedings of the 2014 Veterinary Education (VetEd) Conference, Bristol, UK.

Bell, C.E., Stansbie, N.H. and Hudson, N.P.H. (2014) Peer assisted learning (PAL) in clinical skills training: the student perspective. Proceedings of the 2014 INVEST (International Veterinary Simulation in Teaching) Conference, St. Kitts.