Implementing Team-based learning (“TBL”) to provide continuing professional education for practicing accountants

Brian O ’Dwyer, Commercial Founder and Executive Chairman, CognaLearn



The author was approached by a partner from the accounting firm of KPMG about using Team-based learning (“TBL”) to provide training to practicing accountants. KPMG requires each accountant to complete 40 hours of continuing professional education per year. KPMG selected a 3.5-hour training session for newly promoted audit managers in the very technical area of the Financial Reporting Standard 36 (“FRS 36”)


TBL can be used to effectively train practicing accountants in technical matters.


The author and KPMG spent about 20 hours over a three-week period to adapt the existing lecture style materials. The existing materials had multiple choice questions and cases. The training was planned with an overview of TBL and why FRS 36 was important to KPMG. This was followed with an Individual Readiness Assurance Test (“IRAT”), Team Readiness Assurance Test (“TRAT”), Clarification Session and Application exercises. At the end of the training, the 53 learners were given a feedback survey using a five-point Likert scale.


Learner survey results showed 94% of learners felt that the TBL approach was effective and 98% were interested in other training events with TBL. From a learning objectives perspective, 83% of participants reported that the five learning objectives for the training had been met. During the training session, the IRAT and TRAT were conducted as planned. However, the Clarification Session took longer than planned and the intended mini-lecture evolved into a two-hour lecture. There was insufficient time to conduct the application exercises.


TBL can be an effective way to train practicing accountants. Even with only using some elements of TBL (IRAT, TRAT and Clarification) the session was quite effective. In the future, including the application exercises could be even more effective.

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