Team Based Learning Focus Group

I was recently invited to participate as a team-based learning (TBL) expert in a focus group within the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College, London. The educational design team were considering using TBL for the delivery of a large amount of their core learning and were consulting with a focus group of TBL expert users to gain more insight into the potential of the tool for their course.

Along with some other expert users, I was able to share my experience of using TBL – both from the perspective of learning experience in the classroom and learning administration between sessions. It seems that I’m not the only person who finds keeping track of all the individual scores and team scores a bit of a nightmare.

It was very interesting to hear about other people’s experiences of using TBL in different ways, prioritising different aspects of the learning experience for students. We use the process to enable our students to work very independently, generating and sharing their own content. It was also interesting to hear that others use the testing components as ‘open book’ tests rather than ‘closed book tests’. We collate all students test marks as summative towards their final mark, so we don’t have the option of using ‘open book’ tests in quite the same way, but I wonder if we might be able to work around this somehow. It tests different skills if the learning material can be consulted during the test, and actually, these are more the type of skills that I am interested in. I will have to think about this further during this year and see whether there is a way to use this.

We also tested the LAMS TBL online tool to see whether this could facilitate delivery of the testing and collation of the marks. In many ways the software was excellent, but there were some issues that made it unsuitable for me. Foremost, my students do not work in an IT enabled classroom – I rely on students have access to the internet in their groups for their own learning (via laptops and smartphones) but I wouldn’t feel comfortable insisting on the same as individuals for their assessment. So although there was much to love about the LAMS tool, I don’t think it would work in my context.

I very much look forward to reading the final report from the focus group – it was a pleasure to discuss these issues and debate the utility of both TBL and online moderation of TBL in this group.


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