Getting Student Buy-in For Team-Based Learning

Updated: Sep 9, 2019


One of the challenges educators face is to push for more active and engaged learning in classrooms. While Team-Based Learning (TBL) methods increase engagement and interaction in classrooms, it is important to get students on board with the new pedagogy.


Given the level of preparation required on behalf of the students and the increase in the number of tests, students new to team-based learning may meet this method with some resistance. Specifically, students may be resistant to doing pre-work, taking RATs in every session and/or working in teams.


To overcome these types of resistance, we have compiled some tips for you to get student buy-in.


1) Highlight how TBL can improve learning outcomes for your students


Specific benefits that may be helpful to highlight are:

  • With students having done their pre-work, most of the class time can be fully utilized clarifying aspects of the content they struggle with. As such, time in the classroom is spent effectively and efficiently.

  • TBL helps students build interpersonal skills and teamwork, which are important skill-sets to cultivate in preparation of joining the workforce.

  • The application exercises in TBL are designed to help students apply their learning in the real world outside the classroom, which is especially helpful for students when they enter the workforce.

  • With online TBL softwares such as InteDashboard, educators can quickly identify trouble spots after the RATs are done and clarify concepts that students did not understand from the pre-work. This way, students can learn better with immediate feedback.


2) Involve student opinions in your decision-making process


Incorporating students’ opinions in the process give students the opportunity to voice which aspects of the class are working for them and which aspects could be improved. Using the TBL pedagogy shifts the students' role in the classroom from being passive receivers to captains of the classroom. Such an approach promotes active learning and encourages students to be more invested in their desired learning outcomes. Some teachers even have their students design the grading rubric for parts of the class, such as peer evaluation, so that students work together to agree on the factors that matter most to them.


3) Receive regular feedback from students


By using students’ test results, you can re-evaluate difficulty levels in the curriculum and pick a more appropriate pace. If the students’ mastery of certain material is lower than other areas, the curriculum can be tweaked to suit the students.


Apart from test results, you can also check in with the students through evaluation forms or set up a time every month to verbally ask students during class for any feedback. While test results are also an effective way to assess student response to TBL, students are likely to feel more empowered if they are given explicit channels to provide feedback through.


4) Create teams with equal footing


Having diversity within teams ensures that certain teams do not have an unfair advantage over other teams. Creating teams that have an equal footing helps convince students that the team based aspect of TBL is fair. Within a team, students with a higher aptitude for a subject can help other teammates. This would foster an environment of collaborative learning and better learning outcomes for every student.


For more information on best practices of team formation, refer to Best Practices for Designing And Managing Teams in Team-Based Learning.