Team Based Learning

by | Dec 3, 2019 | Blog

In response to an article in a parents magazine about the value of alternative seating, I wrote this piece about how my research team used team based learning (TBL) in our Teacher Ed undergraduate classes:

My response on August 15, 2019:

In my university classes, I grouped my students in cooperative teams, where they sat in table groups and did project-based discussions and assignments.

After a few years, our research team hired the expert in team-based learning (TBL), Larry Michaelsen, to train us in how to use it to maximize our students’ engagement and critical thinking. This enhanced their working together in table groups.

Here’s a pretty good review of TBL in wikipedia, along with a section about its benefits. Believe it or not, it’s very popular in medical schools around the world. I’m sure that adaptations of it would work in K-12:

Team-Based Learning has been suggested to help students who seem uninterested in subject material, do not do their homework, and have difficulty understanding material. TBL can transform traditional content with application and problem solving skills, while developing interpersonal skills.[4] Its implementation in education can also be important for developing skills and abilities that are useful for businesses, organizations, careers, and industries where many projects and tasks are performed by teams. Learning how to learn, work, interact, and collaborate in a team is essential for success in this kind of an environment.[6] Many of the medical schools have adopted some version of TBL for several of the benefits listed above, and also for greater long-term knowledge retention.

According to a study done by the Washington University School of Medicine, individuals who learned through an active team based learning curriculum had greater long-term knowledge retention compared to a traditional passive lecture curriculum. Evidently, faculty of professional schools are thus directing their focus towards developing application and integration of knowledge beyond the content-based curricula, rather than simple course objectives such as simply memorizing a concept.[7] Michaelsen adds that “assignments that require groups to make decisions and enable them to report their decisions in a simple form, will usually generate high levels of group interaction”[8] and are:

  • significant (correlated to important course objectives, meaningful to the future work that the course might prepare a student for),

  • the same for all teams in the course,

  • about making a decision – providing a simple answer – based on complex analysis of data or application of course principles, and

  • simultaneously reported to the whole class and evaluated then and there by the instructor.

Pete Farruggio, PhD
Associate Professor, Bilingual Education (retired)
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Written by<a href="" target="_self">Dr. Pete Farruggio</a>

Written byDr. Pete Farruggio

With 25+ years of experience in bilingual education as a teacher, licensed reading specialist, program evaluator, teacher coach, resource teacher, professional development expert, community outreach coordinator, and teacher educator, all in Northern California, I'm highly motivated to improve the opportunities for students.