Getting students to apply their knowledge to real-world problems and develop workplace skills in the classroom in an efficient and engaging way is easier said than done.

Enter: Team Based Learning (TBL).

TBL is an active teaching and learning method that promotes the development of teamwork, soft skills and critical thinking through the facilitation of structured sessions based on the ‘flipped classroom’ approach, with a twist. We have prepared resources that will help you become TBL savvy in no time!

TBL adopts the ‘flipped classroom’ approach, which means that students are tasked to view the content before class. As an educator, this will enable you to focus on active discussions, better feedback and deeper application of knowledge. You’ll become the ‘guide on the side’, rather than a ‘sage on stage’.

These 5 steps outline how TBL is facilitated:

 Individual pre-class work

Before class, students will individually study topic material to prepare for in-class discussions. These could be independent online learning modules, pre-recorded videos, audio, slides or assigned readings. Engaging resources work best!

 Individual Readiness Assurance Test (IRAT)

Class begins with a short multiple-choice quiz based on the topic which students complete individually. The questions are typically written at a level that promotes problem solving (Bloom’s taxonomy levels: remembering, understanding and simple applying).

 Team Readiness Assurance Test (TRAT)

The TRAT is the exact same quiz, but this time, the students work as part of a team to compare, debate and explain to each other their own methodologies for arriving at their answers. This is when communication and teamwork skills come into play, as they will have to agree on only one answer per question. Fun times!

 Clarification Session

Instead of showing the correct answers to the IRAT/TRAT, the facilitator will lead the discussion and clarify any points of confusion. It’s encouraged that students take turns teaching each other. For instance, a team that has understood the concepts well would be tasked to explain it to a team that may not have the same level of understanding.

 Focused Application Task (FAT)

Lastly, the final step of TBL involves complex problem-solving activities where teams can put into practice the knowledge they have acquired so far. Problems or MCQs that make up the FAT are traditionally designed by using TBL’s 4 S Framework. A FAT should include a Significant Problem for students to solve, by applying all that they have learned up until that point. Teams should be tasked with solving the Same problem. Teams are to make a Specific choice to address the FAT. Finally, all teams should convey their decision back to the class in a Simultaneous report. (Bloom’s taxonomy levels: analysis, synthesis and evaluation).

For a quick snapshot on how TBL works, check out the following video, which we created to give students a brief overview of the TBL process and what is expected of them:

Interested in delving deeper? Hear Macquarie staff and students talk about their experiences with TBL:


And, If you missed out on our exciting TBL workshop last December, here is a quick recap of what happened on the day:

Keep an eye out for future TBL workshops in the upcoming months!


If you’re interested in taking the next step with TBL, we’ve created 6 guides to help:

  1. An introduction to TBL
  2. A student guide to TBL
  3. How to design for TBL – a step-by-step guide for staff
  4. Scratch cards, iLearn or InteDashboard – Which TBL tool is right for you?
  5. 10 tips for the successful implementation of TBL
  6. checklist for teaching staff designing a TBL module

The Team Based Learning project was funded by the Strategic Priority Grants scheme and led by Associate Professor Panos Vlachopoulos and Professor Joanne Lind. Thank you to the incredible team from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and the Faculty of Arts for making it all happen!

And a big thank you to everyone who helped out with the videos – both onscreen (all of you legends who let us interview you and film your classes) and behind the scenes (LIH crew – you guys rock).


Excited to find out more about Team Based Learning? Discuss how it can be used in your teaching by contacting your Faculty Learning Designers (ilearn.help@mq.edu.au)!

Posted by Chloe Szilas

I'm an MQ media graduate and a Learning and Teaching Support Officer for the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. I also work as a freelance videographer.

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