Navigating the (sometimes) rocky shores
of teaching and consulting
What is it?
Team based learning is "a particular instructional strategy that is designed to (a) support the development of high performance learning teams and (b) provide opportunities for these teams to engage in significant learning tasks. " (Michaelson, Knight, and Fink, 2004, p. 9)
Team learning is a specific use of small groups that transforms the entire course into a team environment. Students generally work with the same group or team throughout the entire semester on a number of projects. The course is structured around these team projects. If you choose to use teams, be prepared for a course transformation, not just adding some team projects to existing syllabi.
When should it be used?
When students need the ability to apply what they are learning, team based learning works well. It also works when the ability to work in teams and groups is an important skill for students to develop.
Effectively using team based learning
Larry Michaelson, a nationally recognized team learning scholar, believes there are four essential principles to team-based learning which must be considered:
- Students engage with the content of the course in more depth than can usually be offered by lecture, class discussion, or small group methods;
- Students gain important social skills in learning how to work within the team environment.
Michealson, L.K., Bauman-Knight, A., and Fink, L.D. (2004). Team-Based Learning: A transformative use of small groups in college teaching. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing. (description of a book about using teams)
Team Based Learning (links to several resources on using teams)
Designing Effective Group Activities (pdf file) (Michaelson, Fink and Knight's article on designing group assignments)