Team-based learning (TBL) is a very highly structured form of group learning that
provides students with resources to gain and practice with foundational skills and
then apply those skills to authentic problem solving. It has two major phases: 1)
the Readiness Assurance Process and 2) the Application Activities.
There are some important best practices when implementing TBL. First, the student
teams stay the same throughout the semester. This enables the team to form a community
that often lasts well beyond the end of the term. I also suggest training this team
in Collaborative Communication so that they begin their work together using principles
of democratic dialogue. While many variations can be made in TBL, there are some aspects
that should be retained. The individual readiness component of TBL is essential, and
while the iRAT can take many forms (e.g. writing reflections, drawing or telling a
story), it is the iRAT that enables the instructor and learning assistants to know
the level of individual student understanding. Student voices are not heard equally
in team activities but that does not mean that their contribution is not equitable.
The iRAT helps instructors see what often goes unseen. In the 4S phase, it may not
be necessary to give students a specific choice. This “S” derived from large medical
and pre-medical classes. However, the Significance and Sameness (or at least equivalent
outcomes form) of the problem are important. Problems that are not perceived as meaningful
to students will rarely garner engagement. I use a variation of the 4S phase in my
in my Biological Chemistry course. To give one example, after students learn about
the chemistry of water, and complete the iRAT and tRAT, they research a water pollutant.
They are required to integrate at least four concepts from their earlier learning
into a presentation, built on a Padlet, that reports out on their chosen pollutant!
In this writing, Dr. Michele Larson shares about how she has made TBL her own.
I have created a vodcast that provides additional information about TBL: https://youtu.be/IVCLYVF7tII
Sibley, J. and Spiridonoff, S. (n.d.) Introduction to Team-based Learning. The University
of British Columbia Faculty of Applied Science. I have made this available: https://www.uwyo.edu/science-initiative/lamp/active-learning-spectrum/_files/documents/intro_to_tbl.pdf