Readiness Assurance Tests (RATs) are integral to Team-based Learning (TBL). RATs help determine whether students are ready for the problem-solving application activities after their initial preparation.
There are two parts to the RAT – the individual RAT (IRAT) and the team RAT (TRAT). The IRAT reveals individual preparation, while the TRAT promotes collaborate learning as students discuss their answers to reach a consensus.
Here are six questions commonly asked about RATs in TBL:
- Does IRAT and TRAT consist of the same questions?
Yes, IRAT and TRAT consist of the same questions. When students attempt the same questions individually and then in their teams, it promotes deeper processing as students debate and discuss their answers before they reach a consensus.
Fox, Gaebelein and Gopalan (2013) had conducted a study where they tested two groups of students – the first group had completed both IRAT and TRAT, while the second group only completed the TRAT. The first group of students had a higher TRAT score and took less time to complete the test as compared to the second group of students. Their study proves that being exposed to the same questions multiple times helped students arrive at the correct answers quickly and improve team scores. To illustrate further, the average student score is typically 65% to 75% on the IRAT and 95% on the TRAT (Sibley, 2018).
- Are RATs done sequentially?
Yes, RATs are done sequentially. Students attempt the IRAT after completing their prework, and then immediately attempt the TRAT with their teams afterwards. By following the sequential process, students are able to reflect on the gaps in their understanding of the prework and are able to learn from their peers. Working in a team also allows students to develop problem-solving skills. The immediate feedback provided during TRAT helps students to improve their overall learning.
- How much class time should be spent on RATs?
Instructors are advised to cater around 30 to 45 minutes for students to complete both IRAT and TRAT and for instructors to debrief. During the TBL-styled online workshops that we conduct, we provide 90 seconds (one and a half minutes) per question on the IRAT and 120 seconds (two minutes) per question on the TRAT.
Additionally, educators often look at historical data to adjust timings for RATs. To find out how you can view the average time taken by the class to complete IRAT and TRAT on InteDashboard, refer to our guide here.
Most instructors are strict with their timings so that the RATs challenge the students and train them to manage their time more efficiently.
If there are students with disabilities, instructors may also consider providing them with extra time to complete the IRAT.
- How many questions should there be on RATs?
Most instructors prepare seven to ten questions on RATs. However, some courses might require more questions – it is up to the instructor to decide what would work best for his or her class.
- What should the difficulty level be for RATs?
The difficulty level for the RATs should be set up based on class level. For example, for first-year students’ introductory courses, RATs should be set at an easy-medium difficulty level. As they progress in the course, the level of difficulty should increase. The RATs should prepare students for the application exercises that follow. Additionally, some instructors like to add one to three questions with answers that are debatable to increase class engagement.
- Should IRATs and TRATs be graded?
Yes, instructors are advised to grade the IRATs and TRATs. The scores on both tests should count toward students’ final grade. When students are credited for completing the tests, they would feel encouraged to better prepare for the TBL activities (Behling, Carrasco, and Lopez, 2019). RATs typically make up 15 to 20% of the total grade – this percentage might change depending on the course context and intended learning outcomes.