Team-Based Learning: A Transformative Use of Small Groups

Team-Based Learning: A Transformative Use of Small Groups

Team-Based Learning: A Transformative Use of Small Groups

Team-Based Learning: A Transformative Use of Small Groups


The remarkable teaching strategy of team learning is explained in this book, taking the teaching of small groups to a whole new level. Team learning's distinctive feature is its ability to transform "groups" into "teams" and use the energy from team dynamics to generate significant learning, offering teachers advantages that are not available in any other form of teaching.


This book is about team-based learning, an instructional strategy that is based on procedures for developing high performance learning teams that can dramatically enhance the quality of student learning—in almost any course. Where did this idea come from? Why is it important for teachers and others in higher education to learn about it and understand it more fully?


The idea of team-based learning originated with Larry Michaelsen in the late 1970s. As a faculty member at the University of Oklahoma, Michaelsen was confronted with a new and daunting pedagogical challenge. Because of enrollment pressures in his department and college, he was forced to triple the size of his primary course from 40 to 120 students.

He had used group activities and assignments in the smaller classes, and this method was effective in helping students learn how to apply concepts, rather than simply to learn about them. Based on this experience, he was convinced that the same kinds of group activities would work in large classes as well. As a result, he rejected the advice of his colleagues who advised turning the class into a series of lectures, in favor of an approach that involved using the vast majority of class time for group work.

By the middle of the first semester in which he tried this approach, it was obvious that this new teaching strategy was working. In fact, it was working so well that it accomplished three things that Michaelsen had not even anticipated. First, the students themselves perceived the large class setting as being far more beneficial than harmful. Second, the approach created several conditions that would enhance learning in any

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