Over 90% of students who trialled Team-Based Learning (TBL) in the Bachelor of Clinical Science stated that the TBL format motivated them to prepare for tutorials, provided an effective way to apply their learning, helped them develop their synthesising skills and took their learning a step further than they expected.  Totally bodacious one could say.  

These outcomes made it an easy pick to have a session on TBL kick off the FMHS’s new series of ‘Connect’ workshops, which aims to build a strong collaborative learning and teaching community where peers learn from peers about approaches that work.   

In the inaugural workshop, which welcomed interested staff from across the University, Professor Joanne Lind and Senior Learning Designer Matthew Robson shared their experience using TBL in the ‘MEDI302 Renal and Alimentary’ unit.  

(MQ staff can click here to view the MEDI302 unit or access the unit through the ‘Open iLearn’ block in iLearn.) 

As each participant entered the workshop they took a lucky dip to find out which team they would be joining for the session, but what exactly had they let themselves in for …  

A short introduction into TBL ensued – a methodology where by students take on the primary responsibility for their learning.  The approach can be explained in four steps:  

 1. Individual  Pre-Work  

This can take the form of readings, presentation slides, audio or video lectures. Students are expected to have completed this prior to the tutorial. 

 2. Individual  Readiness Assurance Test (IRAT) 

At the beginning of the tutorial students individually complete an MCQ quiz to test their understanding of the lecture content that week.  The IRAT can include an element of confidence-based learning where by students must indicate how confident they are about the answer they have chosen. 

 3. Team  Readiness Assurance Test (TRAT) 

After the IRAT, students immediately retake the quiz as a team. The team can only submit one answer and so students must discuss and debate why they know an answer to be correct before submitting as a team.  The TRAT can involve multiple attempts at an answer but with points being deducted depending on the number of attempts taken. 

4. Clarification Session  

After the IRAT and TRAT, teams are asked to clarify  any points of confusion and ask questions. The tutor then facilitates a discussion to cover these points. This can involve having the teams who understood the  concepts explain them to the other teams who were unsure about the topic. 

(If you would like further information on TBL please watch this video.)  

So in true L&T style, it was time for the workshop participants to give TBL a go.  Now if you were asked ‘Which film won the academy award for Best Picture in 1994?’ or ‘Who was showing photographs in The Beatles’ Penny Lane? Would you have been up to the challenge?** 

Well our attendees were and the volume and engagement in the room perfectly captured the premise of the TBL approach.   

This enthusiasm matched that of the BClinSci students in MEDI302 – where students actively worked together to justify and clarify their understanding on various aspects of the course, helping them to crystallise their learning and remember concepts more efficiently. 

To capitalise on this collaborative and communicative approach, on completion of TBL, the sessions in MEDI302 then provided each team with an application task linked to the knowledge covered in the IRAT and TRAT to further extend and challenge their learning.  

The students valued the whole experience TBL had to offer with the added incentive of an ongoing leaderboard of teams throughout the session.  It’s amazing how a spoonful of competitiveness can help the learning go down – in the most effective way. 

Behind the scenes of TBL, the IRAT, which included the element of confidence-based learning, allowed Professor Lind to identify concepts that were causing difficulties as well as giving an insight into confidence and risk taking behaviours. The TRAT was successful in indicating how well students could communicate and their teamwork skills.  

In addition to sharing the value of implementing a TBL approach, the ‘Connect’ workshop also wanted to demonstrate the use of some paid software to help run TBL sessions – Intedashboard

It must be said that TBL can be adequately achieved using iLearn quizzes; however, using Intedashboard during MEDI302 and the workshop allowed for a more polished experience for both students and staff.   

The software made it easy to set up confidence-based learning in the IRAT with an easy point spreading ability.  It also enabled a straight forward set up of point deductions for choosing incorrect answers in the TRAT.   Intedashboard provided a well designed dashboard to monitor live results clearly and at risk students could be identified easily. It also highlighted those students who weren’t working well as a team.  Additionally, data was easily exported from the tool to run reports and support analytical databases.  

Our workshop concluded by presenting the highly desirable ‘John West, The Best Trophy’ to the winning team from the workshop! Lucky Ducks.  But the real winner was TBL – as 90% of attendees to our workshop told us they hope to implement the TBL approach into their teaching.   

Since the workshop, we have already been involved in a successful session of TBL within the Faculty using the functionality within iLearn quizzes – with students requesting more TBL the following week! 

FMHS in partnership with FoA successfully applied for a Learning and Teaching Strategic Grant on TBL and over the ensuing months will be working on the project which aims to provide training, resource development and evaluation of Team-Based Learning 

If you are interested in finding out more about how we have implemented TBL in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences please contact:


** Schindler’s List and a barber

Posted by Victoria Taylor

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