Friday, October 29, 2010

Team-Based Learning - Is It for You?

Team-based learning (TBL) has steadily gained momentum in the field of education. Back in the late 1970's, Larry Michaelsen, a Professor of Management, then of Oklahoma State University, and now of University of Central Missouri, first termed TBL and showed it to be an effective mode of teaching students in small groups of ideally 4 to 7 students per group.

TBL can turn a previously more passive lecture-based class into an active student collaborative environment. A general TBL session would look like this:

(1) Individual Study: Students are expected to have prepared for the session ahead of time by reading teacher-assigned materials.

(2) Individual Test: The time in class is then open for students to assess their knowledge of the material; first on their own by taking an IRAT (individual readiness assessment test).

(3) Team Test: Groups then work as a team to answer the same IRAT question. Students deliberate and decide on a group answer to the GRAT (group readiness assessment test).

(4) Written Appeals: the class reconvenes as a large group to discuss the answers from each group; instructor provides input to direct the discussion.

(5) Application Question: students work in their groups to apply their knowledge and critical thinking skills to answer a question posed to the entire class by the instructor. The class then reconvenes and discusses their answers with the instructor's oversight.

Students can earn points for each section of the TBL sesion that count toward their course grade.

The resources below give an overview of how TBL may work to enhance your course lectures.

Watch this video of Michaelsen describing the significance of different physical set-ups of teams

This video details TBL at University of Texas at Austin and is an excellent introduction to TBL

LITERATURE [click on the titles below to browse content]

Michaelsen, L.K., Watson, W.E., Cragin, J.P., and Fink, L.D. (1982) Team-based learning: A potential solution to the problems of large classes. Exchange: The Organizational Behavior Teaching Journal 7(4): 18-33. [Click here to request article]

Michaelsen, L. K. (2008).
Team-based learning for health professions education: A guide to using small groups for improving learning. Sterling, Va: Stylus.

Michaelsen, L. K., Knight, A. B., & Fink, L. D. (2002). Team-based learning: A transformative use of small groups. Westport, Conn: Praeger.

Koles, P G, Stolfi, A, Borges, N J, et al. (2010). The impact of team-based learning on medical students' academic performance. Academic medicine, 85(11), 1739-45.

Parmelee, D, & Michaelsen, L K. (2010). Team-based learning: it's here and it WORKS!. Academic medicine, 85(11), 1658-9.

Parmelee, D X, & Michaelsen, L K. (2010). Twelve tips for doing effective Team-Based Learning (TBL). Medical teacher, 32(2), 118-22.

Parmelee, D X, DeStephen, Dan, & Borges, N J. (2009). Medical students' attitudes about team-based learning in a pre-clinical curriculum. Medical education online, 14, 1-.

Click here for PUBMED RESULTS for a search on team-based learning

Team-Based Learning (Univ of British Columbia website) -


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