Team-based Learning (“TBL”) for corporates

Several corporates have started use TBL for both internal employee and external customer education.  Initial interest came from the pharmaceutical sector which learned about TBL from Duke-NUS Medical School and was impressed by its effectiveness in training medical students. This piece will focus on TBL for corporates and describe examples of who is teaching with TBL in government, what they are teaching and how it is being done.

Which corporates are using TBL and what are they using it for

Most of the corporates using TBL techniques are in the pharmaceutical sector.  Five of the ten largest global pharmaceutical companies have used TBL including Johnson and Johnson (“J&J”), GlaxoSmithKline (“GSK”), Merck, Pfizer and Takeda.  On big four account firm, KPMG, has also used TBL.  There are two primary areas where TBL techniques are used by corporates:

  • Internal employee training: J&J, GSK and KPMG are using TBL to train their internal employees in areas such as technical product knowledge, technical accounting standards and business communications.
  • External customer training: Merck, Pfizer and Takeda

TBL based corporate training has been conducted in a range of locations in Brazil, China, Philippines, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan.

How corporates are using TBL techniques

The corporate environment can vary significantly from academic environments:  learners tend to be more diverse in terms of age, ability and background, only a small fraction of their professional time is spent on learning and their motivations for learning may vary significantly from students.  As such we have been careful to note that these corporates are using TBL techniques rather than TBL per se because the environments can be quite different.


These corporates have used slide presentations as pre-work which was emailed to participants in advanced of the session.  Many corporate learners prefer to quickly flip through a slide presentation rather than watch online videos or e-learning segments that may be limited to periods of online connectivity and prevent easily skipping material they may already be familiar with.  In some situations, where it was uncertain that learners would complete pre-work a session would begin with a mini-lecture or overview.

IRAT, TRAT and Clarifications

The IRAT, TRAT and clarifications largely followed the typical TBL process.  Many corporates found the IRAT and TRAT process effective at zooming in on trouble spots and facilitating peer learning.  Both these concepts were deemed particularly suitable for a group of experienced learners with varying backgrounds and skill levels.


Applications were conducted in a similar manner to a typical TBL process.  Many learners found the application process extremely valuable and engaging and more time for cases was a consistent theme of feedback.

Other considerations

In session lasting one day, it may be more effective to separate material into shorter segments rather than have a long IRAT and TRAT session in the morning with all cases in the afternoon.  Instead there could be four 90-minute blocks.  A 90-minute block could be structured as follows:

  • IRAT: 10 multiple choice questions (15 minutes)
  • TRAT: 10 multiple choice questions (15 minutes)
  • Clarification: 15 minutes
  • Application exercises: 3-6 cases (45 minutes)

Other key differences from TBL in academic settings include the elimination of peer evaluation and appeals.  Both these mechanisms were deemed to be less important in a training environment where the time schedule was very constrained relative to the material to be covered.


Corporate TBL sessions have been very well received by participants with a 99% engagement or recommendation rate.  Outcomes have been positive as well with an average increase in learning outcomes of 40% of more.

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