Methods for Implementing Team-based Learning

Team-based learning (TBL) has become an increasingly popular teaching strategy, particularly in healthcare education. TBL’s emphasis on application of knowledge, team work, and ongoing feedback helps students retain what they learn while also developing stronger communication and collaboration skills.

In today’s digital age, an important consideration is whether you will be implementing TBL face-to-face or online (or a combination of both). Below we’ll explore how a course might look when delivered in person versus online, taking into consideration the three core components of a TBL course: 

  1. Pre-Class Preparation
  2. In-Class Readiness Assurance Testing
  3. Application-Focused Exercise

Pre-Class Preparation

  • Face-to-Face and Online: For this first step, the setup can be fairly similar in both formats, since students will be completing these assignments on their own. Students might log into their school’s educational software platform and be prompted to watch a short video, read the learning objectives for the class, and read several chapters from their textbook. 

Readiness Assurance Testing

  • Face-to-Face: Instructors can provide students with clickers to answer test questions individually. These questions should be multiple choice and should be aligned with the learning objectives. In keeping with TBL’s methodology, students will then get together with their team and take the same test collaboratively. After this, the instructor can lead a discussion on the topics students struggled with the most. 
  • Online: Through the online platform, students can access the same multiple choice questions and take the test as individuals. For the team version, students will need to plan a time to meet—either in person or through a video conferencing tool like Zoom—and complete the test together. Instructors might then post a supplemental lecture online to address the trickiest questions. 

Application-Focused Exercise

  • Face-to-Face: Students are given a problem to solve and must come to a consensus on the best solution from among the provided options. The class then reconvenes to share and discuss their chosen solutions. The fun and effective Jigsaw classroom technique helps bring TBL to life and ensures every student participates. 
  • Online: Depending on the activity, students might simply read through a case study via their online learning platform and then coordinate a time to meet with their team and discuss a solution. Alternatively, the instructor might use interactive learning elements within the software platform to guide students through written content, videos, and other visuals in order to complete the group activity. Teams can share their solutions via an online discussion forum.

Conducting a course online can greatly help with student accessibility and equity. Course pace has a significant impact on student learning, and with the online format, students can choose the best time to complete individual assignments or meet with their teams. This format can help students who need captioning, alternative text, or text-to-speech readers, as well as those whose first language is not English (FLNE). Online courses can also help build student accountability, since instructors can lock materials so that students have to finish one step before they can access the next.

A possible challenge with the online approach is the use of technology. Some instructors will attempt to use multiple tools, which can increase the likelihood of issues and be difficult to manage. A solution to this is an all-in-one software platform like Leo. To learn more about how Leo can support you in the process of implementing TBL, contact us today.