Teaching team-based learning in large classrooms. TLThd Faculty Focus
Collaboration, Innovative Instruction, Pedagogy

Using Team-Based Learning in a Large, Fixed Seating Classroom

Do you teach in a large, fixed-seating classroom and think you can’t do group work successfully? Well think again!

Team-based Learning, or TBL, is a teaching strategy that is an “evidence based collaborative learning … strategy designed around units of instruction, known as “modules,” that are taught in a three-step cycle: preparation, in-class readiness assurance testing, and application-focused exercise.” (1)  It shares many of the same structures you see in a flipped classroom, problem-based learning, and active learning but the process is what sets it apart from these other strategies.

Graphic depicting the three step process

The Process:

  1. Pre-class preparation designed to give the students the appropriate background and understanding of the concept
  2. In-class readiness assurance testing as an individual and then in their group. This ensures that the student not only did the pre-class prep but understands it as well. Competing the assessment as a group allows an additional opportunity for misunderstandings and knowledge gaps to be rectified prior to the group exercise
  3. In-class application focused exercise is designed to apply and extend the knowledge from the pre-class prep material. It’s normally case or problem-based and the team must arrive at consensus on the best solution. This then leads to a class discussion to explore the topic between groups.

While this strategy works in many different disciplines, it’s perfect for science, exercise science and public health classes.  The problem is these are usually some of our largest classes and faculty worry that they can’t successfully conduct this type of team work in a large, fixed seating classroom.  The folks at the Faculty Innovation Center at The University of Texas at Austin would disagree.  Watch this video on how they have been successful using TBL in large classrooms

Team-Based Learning from Faculty Innovation Center on Vimeo.

Want to know more about TBL?  Visit the resources below.

1 Team-based Learning Collaborative: http://www.teambasedlearning.org/definition/

2 Team-based learning in large enrollment classes by Jonathan D. Kibble, Christine Bellew, Abdo Asmar, and Lisa Barkley  03 OCT 2016 https://physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/advan.00095.2016