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Brooklyn College Library

Team-Based Learning (TBL) Faculty Development Open Educational Resource (OER)

Curated by Professor Graciela Elizalde-Utnick, Dept of School Psychology, Counseling, & Leadership, School of Education

What is TBL?

Team based learning studentsTeam-based learning (TBL) is a powerful pedagogy that centralizes small-group interaction within a flipped classroom framework. Using several strategies, students are held accountable both individually and in teams to come to class prepared by completing the assigned readings and videos so that they will be ready to engage in real-world application activities using the course concepts.

In 2013 Larry Michaelsen came to Brooklyn College for the first time and trained faculty on the essential elements of TBL. Since then, at least several hundred faculty have learned about the principles of TBL and incorporated them into their courses. Faculty have described TBL as fostering student engagement, a sense of community, and critical inquiry and problem-solving, as well as increasing pre-class preparation. (For more faculty reflections on TBL at Brooklyn College read the Brooklyn College Faculty Newsletter Volume XVII Number 1 news.)

Faculty at Brooklyn College have been trained to use TBL primarily via in-person workshops and institutes. Such in-person training typically models TBL pedagogy as the faculty are trained in teams and experience first-hand the various components of TBL. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, faculty have modified teaching practices to extend learning to online synchronous and asynchronous platforms. This Open Educational Resource (OER) has been designed to help faculty learn about TBL. Ideally, groups of faculty would learn together to experience the team components, but like reading a book on TBL, faculty can certainly learn much about TBL methodology using an individual, asynchronous format.

To maximize learning, users should go through the training modules in order, as each module builds on the one that came before it. And like students, faculty are encouraged to complete the preparatory readings and engage in the readiness assurance process to the extent permissible using the asynchronous, individual format. Included in this OER are online applications, resources, and sample activities and syllabi. At Brooklyn College and elsewhere there is a continuum of TBL methodology used, ranging from a more purist TBL framework incorporating all essential elements to modifications made for both in-person and online delivery.

This OER is a living document that will continue to grow with contributions made by faculty who implement TBL. The creator of this OER, Graciela Elizalde-Utnick, has been using TBL in all her courses since 2013 in classes taught in the traditional classroom with all TBL elements being incorporated, and during the pandemic with modifications for online delivery, as well as modifications made after returning to in-person teaching. TBL is a powerful teaching and learning tool that fosters a deep level of learning and creates a very engaging learning environment using both in-person and online modalities.

Rhythm of TBL

 yellow, gold, white, silver, balloons in recurring pattern.TBL courses have a recurring pattern of instruction that is typical of many flipped classrooms. Students prepare before class and then students spend the bulk of class time solving problems together. TBL gives you a straightforward whole course framework to design and implement your flipped classroom.

A typical TBL course is divided into five to seven modules. Each module has a similar rhythm, opening with the Readiness Assurance Process that prepares the students for the activities that follow, and then moving to Application Activities that often grow in complexity and length as the module progresses. As the module is ending, you provide some closure and reinforcement. Module length varies in different contexts. In some courses an entire cycle is completed in one long session and in other courses the cycle may be spread across multiple class meetings.

As the next module begins, the familiar TBL rhythm starts to build: out-of-class preparation, the Readiness Assurance Process, followed by Application Activities