What is Team-Based-Learning?

What do you do in the classroom to build teams?

Team-Based Learning is a strategy that helps create a collaborative learning environment. This strategy requires students to take responsibility for their learning as well as work as a team.

What is Team-Based Learning?

Team-based Learning is a structured collaborative learning strategy developed by Larry K. Michaelsen in the early 1970’s. The instructional strategy as reported by L. Dee Fink, has been designed to “(a) support the development of high-performance learning teams and (b) provide opportunities for these teams to engage in significant learning tasks.”*

Team-Based Learning is a practical approach to learning where students are placed into small learning teams of about 5-7 members. These teams are given activities designed to encourage them to apply their knowledge of a particular concept. This strategy encourages students to come prepared to class and apply their knowledge in class.

Why Use Team-Based Learning?

  • It provides students with a practical outlet for understanding, synthesizing and applying their learning.
  • It stimulates them to explore and improve their individual skills and abilities.
  • It uses real world contexts and similar experiences to educate students.
  • Students can engage in complex intellectual tasks that are challenging.

Implementing Team-Based Learning

Within this strategy modules are implemented in a series of three-steps that include: a Preparation Phase, an In-Class Readiness Assurance Testing Phase and an Application-Focused Exercise. Each class time will typically work through one complete module. The phases are explained in more detail below:

Preparation Phase

Students are given various preparatory materials that are to be read through and completed before coming to class. These materials are related to the course and can be visual texts or other formats. This outside of the classroom work encourages students to take responsibility of their learning and enhances in classroom learning.

In-Class Readiness Assurance Testing

An initial readiness assurance test is conducted to ensure that the students have prepared forth class. The test is completed both individually and as a team. Because of these readiness tests, teachers are able to identify and review concepts that students have problems with or require further clarification. These tests also encourage student accountability, as students are tested on their outside learning.

In-Class Application Focused Exercise

In this session, students are given tasks or exercises encouraging them to apply their learning as a part of their group. These activities can be diverse and engaging for students to put their knowledge into action.

Teachers act as facilitators and move between teams, facilitating discussions and helping the groups think through the concepts.

Principles of Team-Based Learning

The strategy is founded on the following underlying principles:

  • Student accountability is high, with students responsible for their own preparation and participation in the groups.
  • The assignments or exercises used should facilitate and advance learning and teamwork within the classroom.
  • Students should receive prompt and frequent feedback.

Thus engaging in Team-Based Learning helps students to reflect, review, analyze and enhance their learning while engaging in challenging tasks designed to expand their individual and team building skills.

* “Pedagogical Principles of Team-based Learning |.” Center for Learning Enhancement, Assessment, and Redesign. Center for Learning Enhancement, Assessment, and Redesign, n.d. Web. <http://clear.unt.edu/pedagogical-principles-team-based-learning>.


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