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Team-Based Learning (TBL) in Large-Enrollment Introductory Biology




Teaching intro bio for 11 years- going fine, good evals, etc.

Wanted something different-

- improve energy in class.

- increase student-student and student-instructor interactions.

- optimize student learning.


TBL workshop with Larry Michaelsen.





-Lecture Based = traditional format.

-TBL- Learning Assignments (LA’s) in place of lecture.


 1.People have wondered about the effects that devegetation might have on ecosystems (especially with large areas being clear cut, land being plowed for farming, etc.).Consider the experimental setup below. What can you conclude?  Why does the control land show different results than the devegetated land?



2.Fig. 54.17- What are some of the ways that carbon is added to the atmosphere?In what ways is carbon removed from the atmosphere?   

3.Consider the figure below.What has happened to the levels of carbon dioxide over time?Why does the level of carbon dioxide fluctuate on a regular pattern every year?Why is carbon dioxide considered a greenhouse gas?What is meant by the greenhouse effect?Is the greenhouse effect a bad thing?   






Discussions and weekly quizzes- individual (clickers) and team-based (IF-AT forms).

IF AT (2).jpg   







-Increased exam performance.

-Increased ability to interpret data.

-TBL students felt that lecture is more effective than did lecture students!

-Most students report that they complete LA’s to best of ability.

-Most student are comfortable with all students in a team receiving the same score!







What impact does TBL have on student learning and attitude in introductory biology?   

- teach two sections of introductory biology, one lecture-based and one TBL based.


Does TBL result in increased performance (quiz and exam scores) in introductory biology?   

- establish baseline comparison of students in both sections.

- compare raw scores, normalized learning gains in both sections over the course of a semester.


Are any levels of Bloom’s taxonomy helped more than others with TBL?   

- code each question (quizzes and exams) as either knowledge, comprehension, application, etc.) and compare performance in both sections.


Is TBL more helpful to low, middle, or high performing students?   

- correlate final grade with percentage of points earned via lecture vs. TBL?


Is TBL really team-based and is it really learning?   

Do students build answers as a TEAM or do they simply let the leader choose the answer?

- let students self-report each quiz question as either “constructed as team” or “chosen by one”.

- indirect assessment- survey (SALG?).

- other survey info on value of teams, team dynamics, perceptions on grading, etc.


Does TBL lead to increased attendance, retention, comfort level, willingness to talk and take risks?   

- record attendance in both sections (daily digital photo?).

- record drop rates in both sections.

- monitor retention rates of students in both sections (over 3 years?).

- record questions asked and comments made during each class.




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