How should Prework be Prepared for Team-based Learning Classes?

Sep 14, 2022 • 8min read

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In our blog post on cognitive load theory, we learned how to reduce cognitive load when implementing the Readiness Assurance Process (RAP). Educators should also reduce cognitive load for the prework component. Prework is one of the key components of Team-based Learning (TBL) classes – students must complete a set of preparatory materials before the class. By reducing the cognitive load of prework, students will be able to learn and retain information more effectively.  

Backward Design Approach 

Educators teaching using traditional didactic lectures typically approach course design in a “forward design” manner where they consider the learning activities, develop assessments around the learning activities, and then draw connections to the learning objectives of the course. However, in team-based learning, educators follow the backward design process to design the course curriculum.  

202209_BlogArticleImage_BackwardDesign

The backward design approach allows educators to plan the course with a focus on student learning (McTighe and Wiggins, 2016). The approach encourages instructors to consider the learning objectives of the course first. Once the learning objectives have been determined, educators should then plan the assessments and learning activities 

Preparing the Prework 

  1. Ensure prework is relevant to the content that students need to learn.  
     
    202209_BlogArticleImage_RelevantInfo

    Educators should only include relevant information in the prework. A person can only process so much information at once – too much information can lead to cognitive overload, which hinders how much of the information can be transferred from the working memory to the long-term memory (Mayer, 2014). To avoid including irrelevant information, educators should use the learning objectives and determine what is being tested in various application and RAT activities as a guide when preparing prework.  

    Some instructors prefer to prepare summarized presentation slides as prework for students to avoid cognitive overload. Other instructors provide mandatory prework and optional reading materials, hence motivating students to first acquire the fundamental knowledge and then later dive into other subject matters if they wish to. This approach gives students much more freedom in their learning journey.  

    In content-intensive courses, such as medical sciences, instructors sometimes highlight book chapters or portions of text relevant to students. In many curriculums, students are taught how to quickly scan and find information in research papers so that they are able to learn and retain information necessary to them.  

     
  2. Prework should be set at a suitable level for students.   
     
    202209_BlogArticleImage_SuitableLevel

    When preparing prework for students, instructors should consider the level of the students. If the prework is too difficult for their level, they will not be able to retain information well (Freeman, 2020). Some instructors conduct a survey or knowledge test at the beginning of the semester to assess the level of understanding of studentsBased on the results, the instructor decides on the level of difficulty that needs to be set for the class. By setting prework at a suitable level, intrinsic cognitive load of the students may be better managed. 

  3. Include short videos in the prework. 
     
    202209_BlogArticleImage_ShortVideos

    Prework can come in all types of formats – videos, infographics, book chapters, and case studies. However, most students tend to prefer short videos as they would be able to focus on them better and learn more effectively. In fact, research has shown that the longest period one can expect to maintain intense focus and effort toward learning is 90 minutes (Huberman, 2021). Additionally, videos create a more engaging sensory experience – students get to see and hear the concept being taught, and process it the same way they process their everyday interactions (Bevan, 2020). Videos can also increase knowledge retention since they can be replayed as many times as needed. 

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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
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"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."
Steve Schneid Managing Director University of California
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"I just want to say I love InteDashboard, and it is an integral part of my teaching!"
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."
Steve Schneid Managing Director University of California
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"I just want to say I love InteDashboard, and it is an integral part of my teaching!"
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."
Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill Star Fill
"I just want to say I love InteDashboard, and it is an integral part of my teaching!"