Over the recent years, there has been an increase in the importance of Interprofessional Education (IPE). It is difficult for a single healthcare professional to undertake all aspects of the medical treatment and care of patients with complex problems; there needs to be a collaborative effort among other professionals. Educators need to prepare future graduates to be future healthcare professionals. Hence, the practice of IPE is necessary for undergraduate and graduate curricula.
Team-based learning (TBL) is an efficient teaching method to facilitate IPE programs due to its various components.
TBL is an active learning process that involves pre-work, an individual readiness test (IRAT), a team readiness test (TRAT), application activities, and peer evaluation. These components allow students to instill a sense of responsibility at both the individual and team level and build cooperation and mutual trust among their team members (Miki and Nakamura, 2017). Thus, TBL is one of the instructional strategies that has been successful for IPE programs.
How does the structure of TBL facilitate IPE programs?
- Pre-work and IRAT allow students from various professions to be equally prepared to participate in group discussions and problem-solving activities.
Before attempting the IRAT, students complete the same set of pre-work. Students start on a level playing field, regardless of the course they are pursuing. For instance, a team may consist of students from physiotherapy or medicine. Pre-work allows students to prepare themselves and gain the same knowledge, despite coming from diverse backgrounds. According to a study by Burgess and Kalman (2020), the students in an IPE program had a similar score in IRAT, thus proving that the students were equally prepared to participate in the group discussions.
Furthermore, when students take tests like the IRAT between the initial learning of the material and their final examinations, they tend to achieve higher scores Glover (1989). This is due to retrieval practice which occurs during the IRAT - students are encouraged to access new knowledge they have learned, which helps to facilitate later retrieval of the same knowledge.
- TRAT and application activities allow students to appreciate multiple perspectives from other professions and the similarities and differences in their respective curricula.
After the pre-work and IRAT, students attempt the TRAT and application activities in their team. Through these activities, students discuss the answers and gain multiple perspectives of other professions and appreciate the similarities and differences in their perspectives owing to the knowledge they gained in their respective curricula.
The team activities also help students to combat stereotypes among healthcare students. For example, medical students tend to rate nurses as low in competence (e.g., independence) and high in warmth (e.g., team players) (Carpenter, 1995; Rudland & Mires, 2005). Working together in a team allows them to understand one another’s profession and remove the stereotypes they might have had. Furthermore, teams formed in TBL need to be permanent. Teams build trust and develop good team dynamics over a long period of time.
Team activities allow students to learn the importance of actively listening to each other before deciding on an answer. Experiencing IPE in school also enhances students’ readiness for further IPE learning and their attitudes to multidisciplinary teamwork in the workplace (Burgess and Kalman, 2020).
- Immediate feedback promotes class discussion among facilitators and students of various professions and helps students consolidate their learning.
After the TRAT, facilitators provide immediate feedback to students. Immediate feedback promotes class discussion and engages students, allowing deepened learning. In IPE, there may be multiple facilitators from various professions who will teach and provide feedback to students. These facilitators can take advantage of each other’s competencies and provide students with more than one explanation of a complex case through the lens of various professions.
For example, an IPE program may consist of three facilitators - a rheumatologist, a physiotherapist, and a basic scientist. Having facilitators of these professions allows students to have the opportunity to ask medical, physiotherapy, and basic science questions. Receiving diverse feedback and explanations regarding the various approaches to patient care thus helps students to consolidate their learning (Burgess and Kalman, 2020).
Overall, TBL provides a collaborative, task-focused, and student-centered teaching strategy that supports interprofessional learning outcomes. If you would like to find out more about how you can conduct IPE programs using TBL with InteDashboard, book a demo with us here.