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Project introduction and background information

Team-based Learning (TBL) is an active and collaborative instructional strategy that is learner-centred and instructor-directed1. Students are responsible for their own preparation before class and their involvement during class, and they are required to apply their knowledge in solving authentic problems1.

References

  1. Parmelee, D., Michaelsen, L. K., Cook, S., & Hudes, P. D. (2012). Team-based learning: A practical guide: AMEE Guide No. 65. Medical teacher, 34(5), e275-e287.

This strategy was developed in a business school2 in the 1990s by a professor who wanted to take the advantages of small group learning to large groups of students. In TBL, students prepare for the tutorial individually by studying the required materials. As a result, the precious time during contact hours can be used for deep learning. In class, students individually accomplish a multiple-choice test (Attachments figure 1). Immediately after, they retake the test in a group of 5 to 7 students2 using discussion as a means to reach agreement on the correct answer. Next, the students work on group assignments with an emphasis on applying the core concepts of the theory3. Rather than passively listening to a teacher, TBL offers an opportunity to discuss and apply knowledge. Student groups develop into self-managed learning teams3. Grading, peer evaluation and feedback are used to promote both individual and group learning1. 

References

  1. Parmelee, D., Michaelsen, L. K., Cook, S., & Hudes, P. D. (2012). Team-based learning: A practical guide: AMEE Guide No. 65. Medical teacher, 34(5), e275-e287.
  2. Sweet, M., & Michaelsen, L. K. (2007). How group dynamics research can inform the theory and practice of postsecondary small group learning. Educational Psychology Review, 19(1), 31-47.
  3. Parmelee, D. X., & Michaelsen, L. K. (2010). Twelve tips for doing effective Team-Based Learning (TBL). Medical teacher, 32(2), 118-122.
  4. Sisk, R. J. (2011). Retrieved September 28th from: https://www.healio.com/nursing/journals/jne/2011-12-50-12/%7B56831f04-1c2a-4939-b151-f4e00c8aef46%7D/team-based-learning-systematic-research-review

Team-based Learning has many advantages, for instance1:

  • Proven effectiveness in small and large student groups¬†
  • Only one instructor is needed (to guide the process)
  • Students learn to work together in a team
  • Versatile instructional strategy
  • The multiple-choice tests quickly provide the teacher with information about obstacles to student learning, so he or she knows which subjects to emphasize¬†
  • Interactivity encourages peer learning among students¬†
  • Students learn to apply their knowledge¬†

A 2011 review4 of multiple studies confirms that students are more engaged and satisfied in TBL classes. These studies also indicate that students do better on exams. Parmelee and Michaelsen3 concluded that teams outscore their own very best member 99.9+ percent of the time. This conclusion is based on 30 years of data covering 6,161 students. Together, these students formed 1,115 teams, of which 1,114 teams outscored their very best member. (Nevertheless, researchers feel that more high-quality studies are needed to confirm the positive effects TBL has on learning outcomes.) 

References

  1. Parmelee, D., Michaelsen, L. K., Cook, S., & Hudes, P. D. (2012). Team-based learning: A practical guide: AMEE Guide No. 65. Medical teacher, 34(5), e275-e287.
  2. Parmelee, D. X., & Michaelsen, L. K. (2010). Twelve tips for doing effective Team-Based Learning (TBL). Medical teacher, 32(2), 118-122.
  3. Sisk, R. J. (2011). Retrieved September 28th from: https://www.healio.com/nursing/journals/jne/2011-12-50-12/%7B56831f04-1c2a-4939-b151-f4e00c8aef46%7D/team-based-learning-systematic-research-review

TBL has a specific sequence of activities. Parmelee et al.1 describe these steps from both students’ and instructors’ perspectives.

Essential steps for students

  1. Advance assignment: Students prepare for the TBL meeting by individually studying materials or completing assignments (outside the classroom).
  2. Individual readiness assurance test (iRAT): Students individually take a multiple-choice test (consisting of 10 to 20 questions).
  3. Team readiness assurance test (tRAT):¬†Students retake the test, but now as a team. They use discussion as a means to reach agreement on the correct answer. Immediate feedback is important, so ‚Äėscratch cards‚Äô are often used. The students can then see if their team is correct. If not, they can discuss further, scratch a second answer and so on.
  4. Instructor clarification review: The instructor uses the results of the tRAT to clarify the most difficult concepts.
  5. Team application (tAPP): This is the most important step. Student teams apply their knowledge to a real-life and realistic problem. All teams work on the same problem at the same time, resulting in clear, easily presentable solutions.
  6. Appeal: In the event of an incorrect answer, students are offered the opportunity to defend their answer in writing, potentially resulting in a review of the initial assessment.

Essential steps for instructors

Instructors using TBL are advised to employ Backward Design, starting with identifying learning goals to make sure the tutorials are related to these goals ( Attachments figure 2). 

  1. Situational factors and learning goals: Identify important situational factors and define learning goals.
  2. tAPP: Create or find an authentic and believable problem for which students can’t simply look up the answer.
  3. iRAT/tRAT: Create multiple-choice questions.
  4. Advance assignment: Make students aware in advance of the knowledge they are expected to acquire.
  5. Instructor clarification review: Use tRAT results to identify and explain difficult concepts.
  6. Appeal: Potential review of initial assessment for teams that successfully defend their answer. 

 Challenges in TBL

  1. Situational factors and learning goals: Identify important situational factors and define learning goals.
  2. tAPP: Create or find an authentic and believable problem for which students can’t simply look up the answer.
  3. iRAT/tRAT: Create multiple-choice questions.
  4. Advance assignment: Make students aware in advance of the knowledge they are expected to acquire.
  5. Instructor clarification review: Use tRAT results to identify and explain difficult concepts.
  6. Appeal: Potential review of initial assessment for teams that successfully defend their answer. 

Recommendations

 If you want to use Team-based Learning, you’ll have to keep a few challenges in mind:

  • TBL will be a new experience for many students. It is essential to explain to them what you will be doing, and why. You can show them the learning objectives, tell them how TBL contributes to achieving these objectives and remind them of the benefits they will experience3.
  • Good multiple-choice questions are essential for a successful TBL experience. However, creating plausible alternative answers can be difficult. You can ask your faculty‚Äôs educational adviser for help.
  • Make sure that TBL is integrated into your course, module or curriculum1. If you use TBL isolated from the rest of the course, the benefits might not be optimal.
  • You will have to create teams for the tRAT and tAPP. Strive for teams with a diverse composition (distributing the knowledge resources fairly), and make sure the process is transparent1.

Parmelee & Michaelsen (2010) give more tips for doing effective Team-based Learning.

References

  1. Parmelee, D., Michaelsen, L. K., Cook, S., & Hudes, P. D. (2012). Team-based learning: A practical guide: AMEE Guide No. 65. Medical teacher, 34(5), e275-e287.
  2. Parmelee, D. X., & Michaelsen, L. K. (2010). Twelve tips for doing effective Team-Based Learning (TBL). Medical teacher, 32(2), 118-122.