Monday, July 27, 2015

Team-Based Learning: Motivating Students with Little Coaching Involved

I love teamwork. I love the idea of everyone rallying together to help me win. 
Jarod Kitz

From sports clubs, to theater troupes, to competitive Rubik’s Cube solving squads, most students attending college have been a part of and functioned within the structure of a team countless of times. A common practice among teachers is to assign group projects or discussions that mimic this very structure. However, while short-term group projects/discussions undoubtedly require teamwork, they do not necessarily simulate the same experience of being on a team. What makes the idea of a ‘team’ really work is the loyalty that each member has to the success of the group: people are much more motivated to succeed as a team if they have been a part of it for a long time and know/trust the people that make up the group.

Team Based Learning takes the concept of a long-term commitment to a team and puts it into action. The process involves four major components:
  1. The instructor assigns each student to a team that will remain permanent throughout the semester. At the beginning of the course the instructor will pass out a survey in order to make groups as diverse as possible.
  2. The instructor assigns individual tests followed by team tests, where the members can discuss what they originally answered. The team test is in IF-AT format, so members can continue discussion if they initially answered wrong.
  3. The instructor then simultaneously collects responses from the entire classrooms (this can be done simply by using iClicker technology). This allows teams to interact with other teams and discuss right/wrong answers.
  4. The students will create peer evaluations at the midpoint and end of the semester to gauge each other’s contributions and effectiveness.

Faculty that have used this approach testify that:
  • Students feel more motivated to prepare for and attend class as not to let down their team.
  • Discussions are vibrant and fill up the classroom.
  • Working in a team is fun! Students feel like they have a stake in a group devoted to learning course material.
  • Friendly competition within the classroom can act as a motivator as well.

Tip provided by: Jon Pumper

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