Joel Toph (@Kidney_boy) is a renal physician who blogs on the fantastically named Precious Bodily Fluids. He just posted Team based learning, reason for optimism about medical education.
Joel explains that he is pessimistic about medical education for many reasons. However, he now has a cause for optimism after seeing Team Based Learning (TBL) in action at Oakland University William Beaumont Medical School.
This is how the teaching sessions work:
- students are assigned preparation materials that must be read before the class.
- students sit a short test individually (the iRAT) – based on the preparation material – at the start of the class. This counts towards their grade and ensures that students attend the course and complete the preparation work.
- students then go over the test as a team, using scratch-and-reveal answer sheets (tRAT). This encourages peer-to-peer discussion and provides immediate feedback, which reinforces the learning points.
- the teams then tackle more complex 15-20 minute questions in open book style (i.e. open web, or open FOAM!) – called application exercises – then reveal their answers to the other teams and the teachers lead further discussion
Some great things about this:
- learning is active not passive
- there is a strong incentive for students to do the necessary preparation
- it prepares better for lifelong learning in the real world as it is collaborative and allows student to access the kinds of resources that they will use to grow their knowledge in the future
- it makes good use of class time, which is interactive and gives students a chance to explore their understanding and fix their misunderstandings with both peers and teachers
For more details about this particular course, as well as Joel Topf’s insights, check out his post Team based learning, reason for optimism about medical education.