Featured Member – Patricia Gwirtz

Field of Instruction: Physiology
Type of Institution: Health Science Center, graduate level instruction
Location: University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth, Texas

My TBL Experience: I have attended several workshops and conferences to gain knowledge about Team Based Learning and how to implement Team Based Learning into my teaching. Dr. Wayne McCormack first visited the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth in 2011. After his workshop, I had the pleasure of going to dinner with him and learn more about Team Based Learning (TBL). I have been attending the Annual TBL Conferences since then. I took the lead at our institution in helping other faculty learn about TBL technique, how to write TBLs, and how to use them in the classroom. Most of the faculty was skeptical and since I do not mind being the first to try out new teaching methods, I was the first faculty at UNTHSC to use TBL in medical school classroom (student size of 230). Many other faculty attended just to see how it can be done with such a large class because they just knew it was going to be a failure, especially with such a large class. It was a great success. We have been using TBLs in our classrooms ever since. The medical school has modified them and calls them Team Learning Modules. I have created several TBLs that have been used in our graduate physiology course (there will be 7 TBLs in the course this spring) and for a physiology course I teach to physical therapy students.

Mentoring Experiences: Since 2014 I have been invited to conduct TBL workshops and to mentor faculty on incorporating TBLs into the teaching programs. I have presented workshops several time to the faculty here at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth, Texas. I was honored to present three workshops to the faculty and administration at Moscow State University of Medicine and Dentistry in Moscow, Russia (Department of Pathophysiology and the entire faculty and administration), University of Puerto Rico at Cayey, St. Mary’s University in San Antonio School of Science, Engineering and Technology), Texas, and Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas (along with Dr. Ruth Levine – I think I learned more from her than I contributed). I have been advising and mentoring several faculty at the University of North Texas Health Science Center and I also work with a faculty member at Moscow State University by helping her develop her TBLs for a pathophysiology course. This has proven to be an interesting and rewarding experience. The TBLs I developed must be translated into Russian and that can prove to be amusing at times.

Research: Incorporating TBLs into the graduate physiology course was an important component of the Quality Enhancement Program for accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. I am in the process of analyzing data examining the improvement in higher order thinking skills of our student and the role TBLs played in any improvement. Once this data is completed, it will be written up for publication.