What is Team-Based Learning and Why is it Used?

What is Team-Based Learning and Why is it Used?

Team-Based Learning (TBL) is a learning and teaching strategy used in higher education, that goes beyond simply “covering” course content to ensure that students have the opportunity to apply their knowledge from course concepts to solve problems. Team-Based Learning was developed in the 1970’s by Dr. Larry K. Michaelsen – a professor of Management at the University of Oklahoma – and can be applied to a range of academic disciplines, such as medicine and law. Unlike other active learning methods, it requires less faculty time and results in improved learning outcomes for the students involved.  

One of its’ purposes is to help students who are uninterested in the subject material, not doing their homework, and/or have difficulty understanding it improve their learning outcomes. By applying the knowledge in a team-based learning course, students are able to develop problem solving skills, application skills, and interpersonal communication skills. Another is to cultivate in students the capabilities and skillsets to function in teams – a common element of organizational work in today’s working world. In today’s economy, the grand majority of organizations, professions, and working environment have at least some team-based component to them, rendering TBL an indispensable element of learning.  

The logic behind team-based learning is based on changing the student’s role in the learning process. Students go from simply being passive consumers of information to problem solvers. It is also based on changing the instructor’s role from simply being a dispensary of information, to a designer and manager of the overall instructional process. Four essential elements of team-based learning are therefore necessary for the successful implementation of this logic. The formation of groups, accountability, feedback, and assignments promoting both learning and development are critical to the success of a team-based learning course.  

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