Team-based learning is a specialist type of Collaborative learning.
The 4 key elements of Team-Based Learning
- Team formation – Large, diverse and permanent groups should be created by the tutor. Groups should be large enough to ensure a range of skills and characteristics that are important to the team success. While team building and bonding is an important element of the learning cycle, teams should be as permanent as practically possible so that groups do not have to continually go through this process.
- Readiness Assurance – It is important to ensure that students are not only individually ready (IRAT) to contribute to their teams but also that the team is ready (TRAT) to engage with the activity.
- Activities (The 4S model) – The activities need to be carefully designed to apply the concepts that have been tested. This works best when the teams have to; address a Significant problem, make a Specific choice among options, have the Same problem as other teams, and Simultaneously report their decisions. This model is unpacked further below.
- Peer Assessment – Each member of the team should be accountable to the rest of their team for the contributions they have made during the activities.
(Michaelsen et al, 2011 & Silbley et al 2017)
The 4S Model
Effective task design is an essential aspect in getting students to apply the abstract concepts that they would have learned about during the flipped element of the cycle. Senarios should be created that encourage students to apply the concepts, testing their understanding, to real world situations that they are likely to to encounter. These should be based on the actions and decisions that practitioners in the relevant fields have carry out on a regular basis.
Some examples of these might be:
- A patient presenting with specific symptoms and asking to the students to form the best course of action.
- A business that is failing in several areas and asking students to prioritise the most important action that should be taken.
- Presenting a government policy and asking students which is the most relevant theory that explains the style of government.
- Whilst carrying out a risk assessment which of the following fire hazards would be of most concern.
Roberson, B. and Franchini, B. (2014). Effective Task Design for the TBL Classroom. Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 25(3&4), 275-302..
4S Team Application Tasks – A comprehensive resource to help you create 4S based activities for your students.
- Aston Voting Cards for Simultaneous reporting (pdf). Print out as many sets as required for your teams.
- Twelve tips for Facilitating Team-Based Learning by Charles Gullo, Tam Cam Ha & Sandy Cook. 12 tips created from a literature review of published work in the area of facilitation of TBL.
- 4S Team Application Tasks – A comprehensive resource to help you create 4S based activities for your students.
- New Directions for Teaching and Learning Journal produced a Special Issue: Team‐Based Learning: Small Group Learning’s Next Big Step (Wiley Online Library) with a number of papers related to Team Based Learning good practice. The essential elements of team-based learning by Larry K. Michaelsen and Michael Sweet – is of particular note as a good primer on a number of the potential challenges and benefits of collaborative, team based and small group learning.
- Michaelsen, L. and Sweet, M. (2011). Team-based learning. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2011(128), pp.41-51.
- Silbley, J. and Spiridonoff, S. (2017). Introduction to Team-Based Learning. [ebook] The University of British Columbia – Centre for Instructional Support. Available at: