TBL vs Group Work: What's the Difference?

Apr 27, 2022 • 8min read

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Do your students dread group work? You are not alone - many educators face this challenge with their students. 

The problem with group work is that the division of workload is often unequal (Glasgow, 2012). 

Accountability for learning also tends to shift from individual to group, resulting in only a few students contributing to the work while the others become disengaged (Glasgow, 2012). 

Nevertheless, educators might still want to conduct group work due to its benefits for students. However, educators should consider implementing team-based learning instead, which may solve the problems of group work. 

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Group work and TBL are similar in that they involve several students working together to complete an assignment. Both also allow students to develop collaborative and decision-making skills (Parmelee and Michaelsen, 2010). 

However, unlike group work, 

1.   Team-based learning provides a structured form of small-group learning. 

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There is a structure in team-based learning, while there are no specific steps to follow in group work. 

The four essential elements of TBL are preparation, readiness assurance process (RAP), application exercises, and peer evaluation (Sparkes, 2018).  

  • Preparation 

Students are required to review a set of preparatory materials – which may take the form of readings, presentation slides, audio, or video lectures – before the start of each class. 

  • Readiness Assurance Process 

Students complete a set of five to 20 multiple-choice questions based on the pre-work materials – once done individually (IRAT) and then with their team (TRAT).  

After taking the IRAT and TRAT, students may choose to create a written appeal for questions answered incorrectly.  

Students may also seek clarification from their teachers regarding unfamiliar concepts. 

  • Application Exercises 

Students work together to solve complex application problems that require them to apply and expand on their acquired knowledge. 

  • Peer Evaluation 

Students evaluate one another’s performance through peer evaluation at the end of the course. 

2.   Team-based learning requires strategically formed groups that stay permanent throughout the course. 

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Strategic group formation is one of the most crucial elements for the success of a TBL program.  

Forming TBL groups requires considering the course-relevant characteristics of students (Michaelsen and Sweet, 2008). There must be a fair distribution of strengths and weaknesses of students across all groups. 

TBL groups must also remain permanent throughout the course to allow students to build greater accountability, team cohesion, and rapport with one another (Jim Sibley, 2018).  

In group work, students may be randomly placed together without considering their characteristics, and they need not stay together throughout a course. 

3. Team-based learning promotes student accountability. 

11

TBL promotes student accountability through the activities embedded in the course structure (Stein, Colyer, and Manning, 2015). 

For instance, students need to complete their readings before attempting IRAT and TRAT. By holding accountability for their learning, they will be able to successfully complete IRAT and explain core concepts to their peers during TRAT when needed (Michaelsen, 2004). 

Similarly, students need to be familiar with course material to be able to contribute more readily to the group during application exercises. 

Additionally, students must evaluate their team members at least once during the course. This peer evaluation component also encourages students to contribute to the team, thus ensuring student accountability (Michaelsen, 2004). 

Overall, team-based learning is a structured and effective form of group work which brings more benefits to students. 

If you want to get started with TBL, book a consultation with us here. 

To learn more about TBL versus group work, download our free infographic below. 

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Testimonials

Dr. Julie M Estis Associate Professor University of South Alabama
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"Outstanding tool for face-to-face, web-blended and fully online TBL courses! We've been using InteDashboard across several TBL classes at the University of South Alabama and are consistently impressed with the tool as well as the exceptional support from the team. We look forward to increasing utilization of InteDashboard through our campus-wide project."
Dr. Sandy Cook Senior Associate Dean, Education Duke-National University of Singapore Medical School
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"The administrative challenges behind TBL are often viewed as a major barrier to effective implementation. InteDashboard is the only technological solution that puts it all together, allowing the faculty to focus on creating the learning environment - not fumbling with papers, grading and pulling data from different sources."
Dr. John Chapman Assistant Professor Southern Virginia University
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"I'm convinced, and I've done a fair amount of looking over the past few years to identify an online quizzing/survey tool that allows for individual question submission and real-time feedback (especially for the TRAT). InteDashboard really is the premier solution in this category. Bar none. Hands down."
Dr. Jennifer Styron Assistant Professor Eastern Virginia Medical School
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"Ability to get real-time data on RAT test items during teaching and save this information (i.e. scores on assessments) has made the tool an essential element to my everyday online teaching."
Dr. Judy Currey Professor Deakin University
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"I love having real time access to my students performance data and knowing exactly what concepts have or haven’t been understood while they complete their IRATs and TRATs! InteDashboard has significantly enhanced the ease and effectiveness with which I prepare for, and teach in, my TBL classes at Deakin."
Dr. Tom DeWitt Professor Michigan State University
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"Overall, I’ve been really pleased with how InteDashboard has elevated the ability to engage students in Team-based learning."
Victor Holmes Assistant Professor University of North Texas Health Science Center
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"The InteDashboard platform is unique in what it offers for educators and learners. The ability to interact, work with the quizzes easily, and general functionality of the program are key features not to miss. I have been able to create a more experiential learning environment allowing learners to immediately dive into experiences that simulate real clinical challenges."
Dr. Sarada Harichand Bulchand Lead Associate Duke-National University of Singapore Medical School
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"InteDashboard is a fantastic and very useful platform to conduct classes in a team-based learning setting, probably because it has all the features that team-based learning requires. The features on InteDashboard are so nuanced that they help in enhancing the learning of students, which is the core objective that the educators try to achieve from TBL methodology."
Matthew Robson Senior Learning Designer Macquarie University
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"The feature which we find most valuable is the automated grading and item analysis dashboards. They effectively provide staff and students within information that help inform what the clarification session should address. Also, the InteDashboard team provides great support. The team has been responsive to our feedback when we have asked for a possible enhancement to their tool in the past!"
Dr Chitra Pai Professor Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"The support staff was prompt when we were in the initial phase of integrating it into Canvas. It provided the benefits of graded IRAT and TRAT and was really a seamless way to provide active learning in an online environment."
Tanya Bomsta Curriculum Project Manager The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"Tech support is great, the software is easy to use and learn, online TBL is awesome (and helpful in this time of the pandemic), and the ability for easy peer review is stellar."
Dr Grady Campbell Professor Nova Southeastern University
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"Student evaluations were higher the semester we used InteDashboard than the previous semesters we held TBL in in-person setting."
Russell Marcus Department Chair & Associate Professor Hamilton College
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"The great advantage of InteDashboard is that it is a single platform for RATs, peer evaluation, and 4S activities."
Hillel W. Cohen, Dr.P.H. Professor Associate Director of Curriculum, Clinical Research Training Program Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"InteDashboard allowed a seamless transition from paper-pencil response forms to electronic response."
Dr Gemma Quinn Senior Lecturer University of Bradford
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"It's changed the way we do TBL and allowed us to do it effectively online."
Michael E. Woods, Ph.D. Associate Professor Pathology & Director of Research Laboratories Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"InteDashboard gives me the ability to run online TBLs with ease. The interface is intuitive for faculty and students and matches what we would have done in the classroom."
Paul Mcdermott Senior Lecturer University of East Anglia School of Pharmacy
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"I have recommended the product to many people already. It is a very versatile product with features that can be applied across a wide range of pedagogies. I have presented this tool to my school not just as a TBL tool but also a way to collect and analyse MCQ data and as a way to facilitate group learning and peer evaluation"
Dr. Julie M Estis Associate Professor University of South Alabama
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"Outstanding tool for face-to-face, web-blended and fully online TBL courses! We've been using InteDashboard across several TBL classes at the University of South Alabama and are consistently impressed with the tool as well as the exceptional support from the team. We look forward to increasing utilization of InteDashboard through our campus-wide project."
Dr. Sandy Cook Senior Associate Dean, Education Duke-National University of Singapore Medical School
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"The administrative challenges behind TBL are often viewed as a major barrier to effective implementation. InteDashboard is the only technological solution that puts it all together, allowing the faculty to focus on creating the learning environment - not fumbling with papers, grading and pulling data from different sources."
Dr. John Chapman Assistant Professor Southern Virginia University
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"I'm convinced, and I've done a fair amount of looking over the past few years to identify an online quizzing/survey tool that allows for individual question submission and real-time feedback (especially for the TRAT). InteDashboard really is the premier solution in this category. Bar none. Hands down."
Dr. Jennifer Styron Assistant Professor Eastern Virginia Medical School
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"Ability to get real-time data on RAT test items during teaching and save this information (i.e. scores on assessments) has made the tool an essential element to my everyday online teaching."
Dr. Judy Currey Professor Deakin University
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"I love having real time access to my students performance data and knowing exactly what concepts have or haven’t been understood while they complete their IRATs and TRATs! InteDashboard has significantly enhanced the ease and effectiveness with which I prepare for, and teach in, my TBL classes at Deakin."
Dr. Tom DeWitt Professor Michigan State University
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"Overall, I’ve been really pleased with how InteDashboard has elevated the ability to engage students in Team-based learning."
Victor Holmes Assistant Professor University of North Texas Health Science Center
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"The InteDashboard platform is unique in what it offers for educators and learners. The ability to interact, work with the quizzes easily, and general functionality of the program are key features not to miss. I have been able to create a more experiential learning environment allowing learners to immediately dive into experiences that simulate real clinical challenges."
Dr. Sarada Harichand Bulchand Lead Associate Duke-National University of Singapore Medical School
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"InteDashboard is a fantastic and very useful platform to conduct classes in a team-based learning setting, probably because it has all the features that team-based learning requires. The features on InteDashboard are so nuanced that they help in enhancing the learning of students, which is the core objective that the educators try to achieve from TBL methodology."
Matthew Robson Senior Learning Designer Macquarie University
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"The feature which we find most valuable is the automated grading and item analysis dashboards. They effectively provide staff and students within information that help inform what the clarification session should address. Also, the InteDashboard team provides great support. The team has been responsive to our feedback when we have asked for a possible enhancement to their tool in the past!"
Dr Chitra Pai Professor Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"The support staff was prompt when we were in the initial phase of integrating it into Canvas. It provided the benefits of graded IRAT and TRAT and was really a seamless way to provide active learning in an online environment."
Tanya Bomsta Curriculum Project Manager The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"Tech support is great, the software is easy to use and learn, online TBL is awesome (and helpful in this time of the pandemic), and the ability for easy peer review is stellar."
Dr Grady Campbell Professor Nova Southeastern University
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"Student evaluations were higher the semester we used InteDashboard than the previous semesters we held TBL in in-person setting."
Russell Marcus Department Chair & Associate Professor Hamilton College
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"The great advantage of InteDashboard is that it is a single platform for RATs, peer evaluation, and 4S activities."
Hillel W. Cohen, Dr.P.H. Professor Associate Director of Curriculum, Clinical Research Training Program Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"InteDashboard allowed a seamless transition from paper-pencil response forms to electronic response."
Dr Gemma Quinn Senior Lecturer University of Bradford
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"It's changed the way we do TBL and allowed us to do it effectively online."
Michael E. Woods, Ph.D. Associate Professor Pathology & Director of Research Laboratories Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"InteDashboard gives me the ability to run online TBLs with ease. The interface is intuitive for faculty and students and matches what we would have done in the classroom."
Paul Mcdermott Senior Lecturer University of East Anglia School of Pharmacy
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"I have recommended the product to many people already. It is a very versatile product with features that can be applied across a wide range of pedagogies. I have presented this tool to my school not just as a TBL tool but also a way to collect and analyse MCQ data and as a way to facilitate group learning and peer evaluation"
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"Outstanding tool for face-to-face, web-blended and fully online TBL courses! We've been using InteDashboard across several TBL classes at the University of South Alabama and are consistently impressed with the tool as well as the exceptional support from the team. We look forward to increasing utilization of InteDashboard through our campus-wide project."
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"The administrative challenges behind TBL are often viewed as a major barrier to effective implementation. InteDashboard is the only technological solution that puts it all together, allowing the faculty to focus on creating the learning environment - not fumbling with papers, grading and pulling data from different sources."
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"I'm convinced, and I've done a fair amount of looking over the past few years to identify an online quizzing/survey tool that allows for individual question submission and real-time feedback (especially for the TRAT). InteDashboard really is the premier solution in this category. Bar none. Hands down."
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"Ability to get real-time data on RAT test items during teaching and save this information (i.e. scores on assessments) has made the tool an essential element to my everyday online teaching."
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"I love having real time access to my students performance data and knowing exactly what concepts have or haven’t been understood while they complete their IRATs and TRATs! InteDashboard has significantly enhanced the ease and effectiveness with which I prepare for, and teach in, my TBL classes at Deakin."
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"Overall, I’ve been really pleased with how InteDashboard has elevated the ability to engage students in Team-based learning."
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"The InteDashboard platform is unique in what it offers for educators and learners. The ability to interact, work with the quizzes easily, and general functionality of the program are key features not to miss. I have been able to create a more experiential learning environment allowing learners to immediately dive into experiences that simulate real clinical challenges."
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"InteDashboard is a fantastic and very useful platform to conduct classes in a team-based learning setting, probably because it has all the features that team-based learning requires. The features on InteDashboard are so nuanced that they help in enhancing the learning of students, which is the core objective that the educators try to achieve from TBL methodology."
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"The feature which we find most valuable is the automated grading and item analysis dashboards. They effectively provide staff and students within information that help inform what the clarification session should address. Also, the InteDashboard team provides great support. The team has been responsive to our feedback when we have asked for a possible enhancement to their tool in the past!"
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"The support staff was prompt when we were in the initial phase of integrating it into Canvas. It provided the benefits of graded IRAT and TRAT and was really a seamless way to provide active learning in an online environment."
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"Tech support is great, the software is easy to use and learn, online TBL is awesome (and helpful in this time of the pandemic), and the ability for easy peer review is stellar."
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"Student evaluations were higher the semester we used InteDashboard than the previous semesters we held TBL in in-person setting."
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"The great advantage of InteDashboard is that it is a single platform for RATs, peer evaluation, and 4S activities."
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"InteDashboard allowed a seamless transition from paper-pencil response forms to electronic response."
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"It's changed the way we do TBL and allowed us to do it effectively online."
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"InteDashboard gives me the ability to run online TBLs with ease. The interface is intuitive for faculty and students and matches what we would have done in the classroom."
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"I have recommended the product to many people already. It is a very versatile product with features that can be applied across a wide range of pedagogies. I have presented this tool to my school not just as a TBL tool but also a way to collect and analyse MCQ data and as a way to facilitate group learning and peer evaluation"