2018 Abstracts – Oral Round Table Presentations

Scholarship – Does TBL Boost Retention for Under-represented Undergraduates in Computer Science?
Scott Dexter

Computing in the US is facing a well-known crisis of diversity: women and people of color are unlikely to enter the field. Many pedagogical and programmatic initiatives–both inside and outside the university–are working to reverse this trend. While TBL itself cannot attract students to computer science, it may help students who have enrolled in a computer science course–particular those from under-represented populations–to persist and succeed in the computer science major.

In this presentation, I will report on empirical evidence suggesting that TBL-driven teaching supports student retention in undergraduate computer science programs. I will show that in TBL-powered courses, students are less likely to drop out and less likely to fail than in “traditional” lecture/laboratory courses; this effect is very pronounced for women, and, to a lesser extent, for people of color. I will also report on data (still being analyzed) showing the effect of TBL on students’ future persistence and success in the major.


Fundamentals – Interactive Tutorials: An option for Pre-Work that Incorporates Existing Powerpoints
Jan Mitchell

BACKGROUND: Dentistry is a highly visual and process based discipline, traditionally taught with hundreds of hours of image-rich PowerPoints. One of the initial hurdles to implementing Team Based Learning is faculty reluctance give up the use of PowerPoint lectures which contain the images and processes they wish to convey to their students. Options for pre-work often include textbooks which may be out of date and which generally are not well-illustrated.

DESCRIPTION: In implementing TBL approximately 5 years ago, a series of interactive self-paced PowerPoint tutorials was developed to illustrate disease appearance and guide decision-making as no suitable published material was available. Presentation describes how to utilize knowledge from graphic design of webpages and hyperlinking skills to develop engaging, interactive self-paced tutorials for pre-work. Techniques were also taught to other faculty.

RESULTS: Student feedback on the course named the tutorials as one of the major positive factors in preferring TBL to lecture format and were identified as preferable to other types of pre-work references. Students report remembering the knowledge base more and scoring higher on these sections. Additionally, other faculty members in these courses have been persuaded to adopt the TBL technique because they do not have to abandon the teaching framework and images of their PowerPoint lecture.

CONCLUSION: Converting existing lectures to interactive PowerPoint tutorials for use as pre-work has shown to be preferred by students and an effective mechanism in persuading faculty to adopt TBL.


Oscar Urmeneta

BACKGROUND: Traditional lecturing may be ineffective in responding to K12 pupils´ actual learning needs as prospective university students. A literature review identified that, while there is a gap in research, TBL might be suitable before university and is consistent with the major goals of philosophy as a school subject. Thus, TBL was introduced into a k12 class in 2016.

AIMS: The aim of this study was to explore the extent to which, if any, TBL is a suitable driver for active learning in pre-university philosophy classes from the students´ perspective.

METHODS: A mixed-method study was conducted from an action research approach. Quantitative data was collected using Mennenga´s validated Team-Based Learning Student Assessment Instrument (TBL-SAI) with the participation of fifty-two students (93%). Qualitative data was collected using semi-structured interviews that covered eleven students (20%), encompassing the whole spectrum of academic backgrounds: outstanding students, average pupils, and repeaters. Data analysis followed the explanatory design, using interviews to explain and enlighten quantitative data

RESULTS: Results showed that students overwhelmingly welcomed TBL in K12 philosophy classes and would welcome it in other K12 subjects as an active pedagogy significantly different from, and superior to, lecturing in terms of engagement, motivation, and learning improvement. Very few students resisted TBL for reasons that might include less confidence in their preparation for traditional exams, excessive cooperation, and discomfort with peer evaluation.

CONCLUSION: The degree of suitability shown by TBL as a driver for active learning in pre-university philosophy classes from the students´ perspective is encouraging; it suggests that both unusual disciplines to TBL practitioners and pre-university education may be favourable fields for development of the TBL framework.


Scholarship – TBL in the medical curriculum: better than PBL?
Annette Burgess, Inam Haq, Jane Bleasel, Chris Roberts, Roger Garsia, and Craig Mellis

Introduction: Internationally, medical schools have long used a variety of approaches to develop hybrid PBL curricula. However, TBL has gained recent popularity in medical education. TBL maintains the advantages of small group teaching and learning, but in contrast to PBL, does not require large numbers of tutors. In 2016, TBL was introduced to Year 1 of the Sydney Medical Program (SMP). This study sought to compare students’ perceptions of using TBL in place of PBL.

Methods: Year 1 students (n=169) completed three PBL and three TBL sessions during one of the following teaching blocks: Musculoskeletal (n=56), Respiratory (n=59) or Cardiovascular (n=54). Student feedback following completion of each block of teaching was collected by questionnaire, using closed and open ended items.  Data were analysed using descriptive and thematic analysis.

Results: In total, 144/169 (85%) of participants completed a questionnaire regarding PBL, and 152/169 (90%) completed a similar questionnaire regarding TBL. , immediate feedback from expert clinicians, as well as time efficiency, were all aspects of the TBL experience that students found positive. In PBL, students reported that variable expertise of tutors; limited direction; and large group size hindered their learning.

Conclusion: Overwhelmingly, students preferred TBL over PBL, as the optimal teaching strategy.  Students found the structure and format of the TBL sessions more conducive to learning, engagement and participation than PBL sessions. Although the use of TBL required an instructional approach, needing direction from the tutor, it remained student-centred, generating a range of positive outcomes. Study results provide confidence to change from PBL to TBL within Year 1 and year 2 of the SMP in 2017.


Innovation – Integrating a “Blank Syllabus” with Team-Based Learning (TBL): Student-designed TBL modules in a Neurophysiology course
Caroline Wilson

BACKGROUND: The collaborative nature of TBL allows teams to discuss significant issues.  But in courses that cover broad topics, instructor-designed modules do not often consider the benefits of student-directed learning.  In an effort to allow students more autonomy, a “blank syllabus” approach was utilized in the final weeks of an undergraduate Neurophysiology course.

DESCRIPTION: Students first learned about TBL by participating in traditional instructor-designed modules.  The last three weeks of the schedule was “blank” and available for teams to pick topics and create modules for their peers. Students were instructed on question writing and application activity design. Each team picked pre-readings, wrote learning objectives and readiness assurance questions, and designed application activities. Presenting teams were graded on their module design and facilitation, while non-presenting teams were graded on their readiness assurance scores.

RESULTS: The “blank syllabus” approach was an effective method for promoting self-directed student experiences, an important goal for undergraduate education and a requirement for medical school curricula according to the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. While this method did not allow for breadth, students preferred “student-led” over “instructor-designed” TBL modules as they included material that surpassed traditional neuroscience topics. Students did not always adhere to the four S’s during applications, but many creative activities, like games, were the result. Other difficulties included an unequal share of work for module preparation, but graded peer evaluations captured most disparities in workload. Student-designed TBL also gave the instructor an opportunity to lead and mentor others on TBL fundamentals, while remaining nimble to discussing unexpected topics. Former students described a deeper understanding of TBL that allowed them success in their graduate-level programs, indicating development of skills for lifelong learning.

CONCLUSION: Student-designed TBL modules using a “blank syllabus” allows for student-directed approaches to life-long learning and can be adapted for any TBL course.


Scholarship – Good things come in pairs: Using inter-institutional peer review teams to improve TBL application activities
Peter Clapp, Robert A. Bechtol, Diana Langworthy, Jeffrey Lalama, Gardner Lepp, and Kristin K. Janke

Background:   High quality team-based learning (TBL) application activities (AAs) can be difficult to create. However, participating in peer review teams (PRTs) can help improve quality and build teaching skills with the added benefit of establishing collegial networks supportive of the pedagogical method.  The aims of this study were to: (1) determine the range of quality of a sample of pharmacy TBL AAs using a pre-developed rubric, and (2) identify essential variables in structuring PRTs and executing the review process.

Methods:  An inter-institutional peer review process between two pharmacy schools was established. Faculty who implemented at least one TBL AA were invited to participate.  PRTs shared information about their schools’ TBL implementation to build comradery. Then, peer review of three application activities was conducted (30 total across 10 teams) using a 14-item quality indicator rubric.  Following the reviews, participant comments and responses to a series of program evaluation questions were submitted and analyzed.  Program designers also responded to a set of evaluation questions which were analyzed.  Using these data sources, a theory on how and why the PRT program worked was developed as suggested by Haji, Morin and Parker (2013).

Results:  Quality indicators were present in all AAs, but variability in the number of indicators was high. Participants reported value in reviewing AAs in the context of an entire TBL unit, including learning objectives and assessment items.  The participants’ return on investment was described and evidence indicated that planned outcomes of the PRT program, such as relationship building, were met.  Essential elements of a PRT program were defined through the multi-source evaluative and analytical process.

Conclusion:  The use of PRTs is a valuable method for drawing attention to the quality of TBL AAs and building collegial connections that can help guide future TBL practice.


Fundamentals – Investigating Outcomes of Incorporating Grade-Free Readiness Assurance Tests
Vic Matta

BACKGROUND: Incorporating the Readiness Assurance Tests (RAT) into a course requires dramatic changes to a grading system. However, this can be difficult in courses that have already been designed. In the case of a course that has multiple sections, then piloting RATs in one section could upset a

standardization of grade components that may exist across its sections. Other times, it could simply be an issue of inertia when a course has been taught in a certain way for several years, or even uncertainty of the extent of weights that need to be used for RATs. If RATs could grade-free, it may mitigate some issues. The question then, is what transpires if the RATs do not leverage grades?

DESCRIPTION: The research objective is to investigate the issues of incorporating RATs without involving grades, and investigate: How sincerely do students attempt individual and team RATs? Would their attempts have improved if the RATs credited their grades? This research proposes that there is no perceived difference in the motivation to perform on grade-free RATs, and examines the causes for this.

METHODOLOGY: The research was conducted at a College of Business in a mid-western university, during a course in Business Analytics with over 50 students. Students were administered a survey inquiring about their comparative levels of motivation, attitudes and preferences towards grade-free RATs, as well as open-ended questions to collect their self-reported causes of motivation.

DISCUSSION: It was found that students were still motivated to participate in the RAT exercises. The open”“ended survey revealed several reasons for this participation and motivation to indulge, details of which will be presented at the conference. Implications include risk-free trials of RATs, and less tense governance of RATs.


Innovation – Innovations and Opportunities: TBL beyond the Academy
Liz Winter, Tom Jansen, and Brian O’Dwyer

Background: The TBL model is well established for academic settings (‘academic TBL’) and many TBL practitioners now use TBL in continuing education and workforce training.  Importantly, trainers without experience of academic TBL are implementing TBL in diverse training settings.  Some trainers report that traditional TBL training, focussed on academic education, lacks relevance for TBL in training.  Translating academic TBL to non-academic settings requires some modification to meet the needs of diverse training and learning cultures, and diverse organizations.  Training offers a massive dissemination opportunity for TBL, since so many occupations require career-long training.

Description: Three case studies illustrate the translation of TBL by experienced TBL practitioners, into diverse training environments, while maintaining high fidelity to TBL.  Operationalization of TBL elements is described, including strategies addressing threats to model fidelity.  Case 1 describes TBL workshops for public child welfare trainers, curriculum writers, and training evaluators in the United States as part of a larger scale state-wide TBL implementation. Case 2 describes executive leadership training in a national non-profit organization in the United States. Case 3 describes continuing education for chartered accountants in Singapore for a large multinational private accounting firm.

Results:  TBL practitioners report that preparation, team selection, readiness assurance, and 4-S application activities require minimal modification.  Participant evaluation (‘grading’) and peer evaluation elements require modification.  TBL practitioners report that TBL is generally well-accepted by participants, who demonstrate strong engagement in training.  Organizations appreciate increased training engagement and see the potential for TBL to support evaluation of competencies.  Sequenced implementation of TBL elements may be indicated as organizations integrate competency evaluation into training.

Conclusions:  Findings support development of best practices for TBL in training, particularly for evaluation and peer evaluation.  Findings indicate potential for TBL use in ongoing workforce skill evaluation.