Peer assisted learning placements #physiotalk 3rd Feb 8pm

We are sticking to our new (or is it just going back to our old time) of 8pm on Monday 3rd February for our next chat – which is on Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) placements.

This is a style of placement that is being increasingly promoted  – both because of placement capacity but also because the benefits of shared learning can help students to deal with many of the issues they face on placement, such as the increasing complexity that patients present with.

What is a PAL placement?

The Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) model is when two or more students are supervised by one practice educator within a specific clinical area.  In the context of student placements this would be two or more students collaboratively working together and actively learning with and from each other on placement. This is distinct from simply having 2 students on placement at the same time. 

PAL placements have been established as common practice within other AHP professions, with a report from dieticians in NHS Scotland showing that 61.1% of educators reported that they are almost always or frequently implemented a PAL based model of placement to students. Whilst PAL placements have been used in physiotherapy for quite some time as well, they are still not the norm, with the 1:1 model appearing to remain the predominant way physiotherapy students are hosted in the practice environment.


The CSP has been looking at new and innovative ways of developing placement capacity alongside looking at differing models of supervision and you can see some of their outputs within their learning hub on ‘practice based learning and you’ (Will need to logged in as CSP member) which includes looking at PAL placements.

There have also been a number of research projects over the years looking at PAL placements (take a look in our resources section below). These are generally positive, with Sevenhuysens conclusion being that ‘Students and educators perceive that PAL can help to position students as active learners through reduced dependence on the clinical educator, heightened roles in observing practice, and making and communicating evaluative judgments about quality of practice. The role of the clinical educator is not diminished with PAL, but rather is central in designing flexible and meaningful peer-based experiences and in balancing PAL with independent learning opportunities’

However there is no doubt that for an educator or student to move from a more ‘traditional’ approach to a PAL approach takes time and preparation. Educators will need to explore their concerns about a PAL approach, from time management, setting expectations, assessment etc.

So our chat on Monday 3rd February will look to explore some of these issues – from both the perspective of an educator and as a student.

Chat questions

  • What do you understand by the term PAL placement?
  • Have you experienced a PAL placement as educator or student?
  • What do you think are the advantages of a PAL placement – for the student?
  • What do you think are the advantages of a PAL placement – for the educator?
  • What are your concerns about PAL placements?

Missed the chat?

Catch up with our transcript 


Physiotherapy students and clinical educators perceive several ways in which incorporating peer-assisted learning could improve clinical placements: a qualitative study

The development of a peer assisted learning model for the clinical education of physiotherapy students

Educators and students prefer traditional clinical education to a peer-assisted learning model, despite similar student performance outcomes: a randomised trial

Evaluation of a 2 to 1 peer placement supervision model by physiotherapy students and their educators


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