The Team-Based Learning Process

Updated: Sep 13, 2019



Team-based Learning began as a way to improve learning outcomes through fostering discussion among students and teams. Over the years, it has evolved to a methodology used across well respected universities, corporations and government agencies to increase student engagement, knowledge retention and ability to apply concepts outside the classroom.


The following steps outline the process followed commonly in TBL classrooms across the world:


1. Pre-work

2. IRAT

3. TRAT

4. Clarification

5. Application Cases

6. Peer Evaluation


1. Pre-work

Pre-work refers to the material students receive to read, listen or watch before the class. The idea is that they should arrive at the class knowing the material so that they can put it into practice during the class. Nowadays, the material is usually provided through a Learning Management System.

2. IRAT

The IRAT or Individual Readiness Assurance Test is the first thing students do when they arrive at the class. It consists of a set of multiple-choice questions which test students on their knowledge of the pre-work. Its main purpose is to ensure students do the pre-work and come prepared to the class. This is extremely important because if they arrive unprepared they will miss on the valuable opportunity of putting into practice the knowledge they’ve acquired.

3. TRAT

The TRAT or Team Readiness Assurance Test follows the IRAT and consists on the same set of questions as the IRAT. However, the main difference is that this time students take the test in teams. Students get to discuss with their peers what they think the correct answer is and are required to answer each multiple-choice question until they arrive at the right answer. This provides students with immediate feedback on their answer. Equally important, however, is that students get to develop valuable soft skills like teamwork or communication through discussion.


4. Clarification

Once students are done with the TRAT, they can request clarification on any concepts that haven’t been grasped or questions that they haven’t understood. One technique is to ask teams that claim to have understood a question to explain the answer to a team that hasn’t understood. This usually encourages teams and individuals to communicate their misunderstanding.


5. Application Cases

Subsequently, students take application cases where the main purpose is to put into practice what they’ve learned in the previous steps. Application cases consist of multiple choice questions designed for students to make a decision on a specific real-life problem. This stage is particularly important for further developing collaborative soft skills and taking the class closer to real workplace problems students will encounter in the future.

6. Peer Evaluation

Peer evaluation takes place a few times during the course. Students rate each other and teachers use this information to calculate a “peer score” which they can use to adjust the students’ overall grade. Read our Definitive Guide to Peer Evaluation to learn more about the various peer evaluation methods used by educators.


Conclusion

Team-Based Learning consists of a very specific process comprising 6 steps: -Pre-work: Students receive material to consume before the class.

-IRAT: Students complete an individual multiple choice test to gauge understanding. -TRAT: Students complete the same test but in teams where they get to discuss. -Clarification: The instructor clarifies any issues or questions. -Application Exercises: Students use their recently acquired knowledge to solve real-world problems in teams. -Peer Evaluation: Students get to assess each other’s performance.