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Team-Based Learning

By Larry Michaelsen, University of Central Missouri and Michael Sweet, University of Texas at Austin

Wouldn't it be great if your students predictably held each other accountable for coming to class prepared?

This article describes Team-Based Learning (TBL), an approach first developed to facilitate active learning in large undergraduate classes, but which has subsequently proven to be effective in a wide range of instructional settings.

The advantages of TBL include improved attendance, increased pre-class preparation, better academic performance, and the development of interpersonal and team skills, in class sizes ranging from 10 to 400-plus, with courses in hundreds of academic disciplines and students ranging from freshmen on academic probation, to doctoral level students.

TBL has also been shown to reduce faculty burnout by promoting increased student responsibility, engagement in the learning process, and increased opportunities for positive teacher-student interactions.

The defining characteristics of TBL include: (1) using permanent and purposefully heterogeneous work groups; (2) beginning each instructional unit with a Readiness Assurance Process to ensure content coverage and promote team development; (3) using peer evaluations to facilitate interpersonal skill development and ensure equity in grading; and (4) devoting the vast majority of the class time to small group activities, necessitating a shift in the role of the instructor from dispenser of information to manager of the learning process.

Meet Larry Michaelsen and Michael Sweet

Larry Michaelsen is the David Ross Boyd Professor Emeritus at the University of Oklahoma, professor of management at the University of Central Missouri, a Carnegie Scholar, a Fulbright Senior Scholar, and former editor of the Journal of Management Education. He has received numerous college, university and national awards for his outstanding teaching.

Michael Sweet is an instructional consultant in the Division of Instructional Innovation and Assessment (DIIA) at the University of Texas at Austin. He has helped teachers implement TBL into courses of every size and discipline for more than 10 years. He has published and presented widely, and recently edited a special issue of Educational Psychology Review on postsecondary collaborative learning.


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Thriving in Academe

  • anc_dyn_linksTeam-Based Learning
  • anc_dyn_linksTales from Real Life: The Readiness Assurance Process
  • anc_dyn_linksThe Least You Should Know about TBL
  • anc_dyn_linksBest Practices: Using Assignments that Promote Discussion
  • anc_dyn_linksIssues to Consider: What Do You Want Students to Do?
  • anc_dyn_linksReferences & Resources

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