As many in academics have come to realize, the old stand-by method of assigning reading, lecturing on material and then testing students is inefficient and, under many circumstances, ineffective.
One method that has evolved to break out of this archaic routine is team-based learning. This process of teaching in many respects breaks multiple rules of the old-fashioned model, allowing students to work in class as teams to collaborate on discovering the best answers to questions through discussion and consensus.
When structured properly, these teams should be permanent and as diverse as possible. In an academic environment, this would include students from various academic years and majors. In a business training environment, such diversity would include team members from across a company’s or organization’s various departments.
Team-based learning is broken down into modules taught in three parts: preparation, a test that determines pre-class readiness, and an application-focused exercise. These are applied through five components.
- Individual pre-work – This component consists of advance readings, presentations, or video or audio lectures.
- Individual Readiness Assurance Tests (IRAT) – Trainees take an individual, 20-question quiz based on the pre-work.
- Team Readiness Assurance Test (TRAT) – After taking the IRAT, teams then retake the same test together, submitting answers either via a scratch card that reveals correct answers or using audience response technology and software. Scores from both tests count toward a student’s final grade.
- Clarification Session – In this phase, trainees can ask for clarification on points covered in the testing, as well as rate the quality of the multiple-choice questions, suggest changes and even lodge an appeal regarding questions they might have missed.
- Application Exercises – All trainee groups are assigned the same problem to work on collaboratively using the information on which they were just tested. Answers must be based on a group consensus and displayed to classmates, and teams can then discuss or debate the results with the instructor acting as facilitator.
In addition, peer evaluation is an optional sixth stage, in which students can assess the performance of their teammates at the middle or end of the course.