Team-based learning at Duke

Have you and your students tried team-based learning? Team-based learning, or TBL, is a method of teaching where students learn fact-based material before class, and then work together in the classroom to apply concepts and ideas to solve problems, with the instructor’s guidance.  Watch a video explanation or read more. At Duke, faculty are using team-based learning [...]

Have you and your students tried team-based learning? Team-based learning, or TBL, is a method of teaching where students learn fact-based material before class, and then work together in the classroom to apply concepts and ideas to solve problems, with the instructor’s guidance.  Watch a video explanation or read more.

At Duke, faculty are using team-based learning in a variety of courses.  Meet some of them:

Pelin Volkan (Biology and Duke Institute for Brain Sciences) teaches her Developmental Neurobiology course using TBL.  She says:

Team based learning turned my students into real scientists. There is nothing more rewarding than having junior and senior students coming up with ideas in 10 minutes that have been published in journals like Cell, Science and Nature.

Leonard White (Physical Therapy and Duke Institute for Brain Sciences) leads his Functional Neuroanatomy course with TBL.  He says:

TBL has energized students for discovery and learning by capitalizing on what they do best: mobilizing resources, collaborating in small groups, and applying their collective fund of knowledge to real-life problems.  In Functional Neuroanatomy (NEUROSCI 173S), students were challenged to acquire core content relevant to the day’s learning objectives before they came to class, so that in class they can affirm or correct their knowledge base through teamwork.  Once their understanding of the day’s neuroanatomical system is reinforced and elaborated through assessment and discussion, students progressed to the laboratory phase of the session where they explored the organization of that system with hands-on studies of human brain specimens.  In this TBL approach, the final phase of application provides students with an opportunity for consolidation of learning and further discovery, all in the same course session.

Will Dr. White continue to teach using TBL?  Here’s what he says:

My Functional Neuroanatomy course was entirely in TBL format.  In the DPT program, we have re-engineered our entire curriculum to run in teams, with TBL being the vehicle for the basic science year and the clinical science/interventions year.  As if that weren’t enough, I am now the course director for the MS1 course, Brain and Behavior, and that too will be re-engineered in a TBL framework.  So I have completely thrown myself into the fires of TBL!

Roberts HeadshotCraig Roberts (Duke Institute for Brain Sciences) says:

Team-based learning is enabling my students to move beyond memorizing information to developing a functional understanding of the subject matter. Seeing Introductory Psychology (PSY 11) students critically analyze recent scientific articles is inspirational. I’m excited to continue employing TBL to push the limits of what’s possible in the undergraduate classroom.

A version of TBL called TeamLEAD has been used very successfully for graduate medical education at Duke-NUS, Duke’s partnership with the National University of Singapore.

In addition, seven faculty members in Doctor of Physical Therapy program are working with the Center for Instructional Technology to apply team based learning approaches to six courses that will comprise the first and second years of the clinical education component.

Andrea Novicki

Author: Andrea Novicki

Andrea helps faculty teach effectively and efficiently. She works primarily with scientists, using her biology background, love of science and teaching experience. Her current enthusiasms include active learning, group learning (especially team-based learning) and assessment.