Do students come to class having not done the reading? Does lecture tend to dominate the use of class time? Is there a delay in providing feedback to students on their performance? Does group work devolve into distributed, uneven pieces of a project? Team-based learning is a teaching strategy that addresses these challenges in several ways. First, students become members of small, permanent teams to hold them accountable for each other’s learning. A student's grade is based in part on their team’s performance during the course. In addition, students take regular quizzes on the reading (Readiness Assurance Tests, RATs), first as individuals and again as a team, to ensure their preparation for class. Because the RATs free the instructor from covering basic definitions and concepts, in-class activities then focus on team-based practice, application, and analysis. Finally, students provide regular feedback to their teammates on their relative contributions to the team’s performance. Many studies document the successes of team-based learning approaches, such as better student engagement in class, more collaboration among students, and deeper learning of complex skills.
The University of Texas has a video overview of the Team-Based Learning process.
The Team-Based Learning website has resources to support instructors through every step of designing and implementing a course using this approach.
Who Is Doing This at IUB
Melanie Marketon, assistant professor in the Department of Biology, uses team-based learning in her 300-level biology lab course to encourage student collaboration and to help them develop deep understanding of the course concepts and excellent written communication skills.
Dan Richert in informatics uses team-based learning in his Information Representation course. His students spend class time solving problems in their permanent teams, and Dan uses both RATs and CATs to ensure two-way communication between instructor and students.
For More Help or Information
Readiness Assurance Tests often utilize scratch-off forms that provide immediate feedback. These "IF-AT" forms are available from CITL. Instructors need to indicate whether they want 4-item or 5-item forms and how many they will need (depending on how many teams in the class). CITL staff prefer that the forms be picked up in person so that the answer keys are kept secure. A free online TestMaker is also available.