Team-Based Learning

The course will use team-based learning (TBL). This is a learning method to ensure active learning in small teams. It will make this course intensive, but also the source of much fun. By the end of the semester, most students prefer TBL to traditional lectures.

Some features of team-based and active learning:

How TBL Works

The course consists of separate units, roughly one for each week. Each week will be organized in a very similar way:

  1. You need to prepare for the unit.
  2. At class time we start with a test about the reading material, a so-called RAT.
  3. After the RAT, you get special activities that you do together in your team. Depending on the activities, there are different ways of handing in the results.

Phase 1: Preparation

The preparation happens individually. Sometimes it is one or two chapters of a book, special reading material developed for this course or some videos. This gives you the opportunity to study at your own pace and get familiar with a new topic. Of course it will vary how much time each student will spend on the preparation material, and it also depends on the unit, but roughly 2 hours is a good guideline, sometimes more and sometimes less.

Phase 2: Individual RAT

A RAT is a multiple-choice test with 10 questions that have 4 answer alternatives. You get 20 minutes to answer the test individually. The questions are not particularly difficult, and directly related to the preparation material. Some questions may still feel a bit tricky, since we want you to select the best answer.

Note the following:

Phase 3: Team RAT

After the first 20 minutes with the individual RAT, you get the same test again, but this time you solve it in your team. At the beginning, get the team-RAT, and find the assigned place in the auditorium for your team. Together with your team-RAT you receive an attached scratch card. You need to discuss with your team members and agree on a common answer. Once you agree on an answer, you scratch the corresponding field on the scratch card open. If the answer was correct, you'll see a little star in it. In this case, proceed with the next question. If you don't see a star, find the next answer alternative, until you find it.

Scratchcards reveal the right answer with a star.  

For best learning, make sure of the following:

We do the RATs together as teams in Zoom using breakout rooms. Instead of physical cards, your team receives a link to a digital card.

Digital version of the scratch card.  

Phase 4: Team Activities

After the team-RAT we continue with the team activities for this learning unit. We will introduce the activities and clarify any questions about the task, the expectations, and how you deliver your results.

After the class time you can either continue working in your team or schedule a time when all are available. The team activities are timed to fit in an 2-hour block. You finish each team activity with a delivery and also a team reflection. Depending on the type of activity and delivery, you'll get some feedback on it during the next week.

Videos about TBL

Have a look how TBL works at other universities.

Team-Based Learning at Duke University

Team-Based Learning at Bradford

Sheri Wall on TBL

On Forming Teams

In TBL, teams are assigned by the instructor. Let's hear the description from Michael Sweet why this is a good idea: