Team-based learning, or TBL, is a teaching and learning strategy that allows students to work in teams and apply their knowledge in class. This is different from the traditional lecture style of teaching, as well as from group work. In group work, students tend to work independently, to assign each other tasks, and to refrain from open communication or the sharing of new ideas and opinions. With TBL, however, teams are more interactive. Members work interdependently and use open communication for ideas, opinions, and handling conflict.
Dr. Sarah Arrington, the technology consultant for the Reich College of Education and adjunct professor in the Department of Biology, began using TBL in her classes in Fall 2020. She has used it in her BIO 1801 courses, an introductory course for biology majors. Dr. Arrington implements TBL both in an active learning classroom and on zoom by having students complete readings and practice questions beforehand. They then take quizzes in class both individually and in teams. Teams must work together to determine the best answer and submit it together. This allows them to engage in more in-depth discussions and to work through challenging concepts together. In the next class period, teams work together on case studies to apply what they have learned.
Dr. Arrington was able to analyze her students’ test scores before and after she implemented TBL. The results were that “the reduction in live lecturing on the material has not had a negative impact on student scores,” and in many cases, TBL improved their scores. In addition, she has had several students give feedback on the new teaching and learning style. One student said, “I found TBL to be the most helpful in learning the material. This style of teaching lets the student learn on their own terms, while also giving them adamant detail about the topic at hand. I also like the concept of working in a stagnant team throughout the semester. This gives you a line of communication for not only learning but also team development skills for the future.”
TBL has proven to be a successful teaching strategy and helps students become more engaged in class. In addition, the seventeen active learning classrooms located all across campus are a great tool for professors to implement TBL strategies.
To find out more about upcoming professional development opportunities related to TBL, contact Sarah Arrington at arringtonsa@