Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Team-Based Learning in Pharmacotherapeutics

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Team-Based Learning in Pharmacotherapeutics

Article excerpt


Team-based learning was initiated in medical education at Baylor College of Medicine in 2001 and has since garnered interest from other areas of health profession education, including nursing, physician assistant, dental, and veterinary schools. (1) Colleges and schools of pharmacy also have implemented team-based learning with use reported in instruction within a musculoskeletal system and pain management module, (3) cardiovascular and endocrine modules, (4) and a pathophysiology and therapeutics sequence. (5) Other colleges and schools of pharmacy have implemented team-based learning as part of their curriculum but have not published their experiences.

A faculty member at Drake University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences became interested in team-based learning as a way in which students could become better learners and more actively engaged in the classroom. Most educators were taught via the lecture-based method and many had adopted this same approach in their teaching. Although many students at the college were comfortable with this method of learning and paid attention in class and took notes, others were observed sleeping, talking, and reading during lectures. In an effort to get students interested in and excited about course material, active-learning components including cases, games, and documentaries were developed for every lecture. The idea of team-based learning also was raised at this time as this method addressed many professional competencies, including communication, interpersonal skills, teamwork skills, knowledge acquisition, and application of knowledge, and seemed to meet many ACPE Standards. (6,7) After much discussion, the faculty approved the transition from lecture-based delivery in pharmacotherapeutics courses to team-based learning in 2008, with formal implementation in January 2009. The objectives of team-based learning were to motivate students to become more engaged in the course and to make them better learners.


Prior to implementation of team-based learning, students in the pharmacotherapeutics course attended 2-hour lectures twice weekly. Students also met in smaller recitation groups once each week for 2 hours. Most students were satisfied with the lecture portion of the course as the faculty member (considered the content expert by his colleagues) told them what they needed to know and they could remain anonymous in a large lecture hall. However, some students were unhappy with the recitation portion of the course, which was led by faculty members who were not always comfortable with the material and could not answer the students' questions immediately. A 2-3 day delay in responding to the students' questions sometimes occurred while the recitation leader contacted the lecturer.

Standard team-based learning is comprised of 3 major steps. (1) Step one is individual study and preparation that is completed prior to class. Students are assigned readings that contain information on concepts that must be understood in order to complete the next 2 steps.

Step 2 of standard team-based learning is the readiness assurance step in which students come to class and complete an individual (usually multiple-choice) test on the preclass reading. (1) After the individual test (IRAT) is complete and students have turned in their answers, the students work with an assigned team to complete a group test (GRAT). The GRAT contains the same questions as the IRAT, but this time the team has to agree on 1 answer for each item. The groups may be able to see whether their answers are correct using immediate feedback assessment technique answer sheets. Following the GRAT, the group can submit a written appeal for one of their answers to a question (if needed) and the instructor will provide clarification on concepts presented in the preclass readings.

Step three of standard team-based learning consists of application exercises. …

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