This semester, I have been experimenting with Team Based Learning; I am really happy with the outcome so have decided to write a series of blog posts about it. First up is this post on motivation. Read on if any of these sound intriguing: an alternative to ‘transmission’ lecturing; challenges of scaling up your teaching to larger cohorts (what works for 30 doesn’t work for 100); opportunities to improve engagement and interaction, building skills of leadership and peer evaluation; turning groups of students into high performing teams.
I have been lecturing in higher education for almost a decade now, and increasingly I have been dissatisfied with the traditional lecture mode of delivery. Don’t get me wrong – lectures have their place and I am willing to travel for a high quality lecture.
A lecture is also very scaleable, once the cohort goes much above 50 students then really the sky’s the limit, you can deliver the same contact (in a didactic manner) to thousands of students. Nor is interaction out of the question here – you can use quizzes and polling to deliver a much more interactive experience, even to remote participants.
But the central problem remains – a nagging truth for me which is:
I am the bottleneck
Turning this round, think of the opportunity. We have a group of smart, motivated learners who have chosen to gather together in the same (maybe virtual) space and at the same time. There is geographical and temporal synchronicity.
I should be able to harness this opportunity better than just talking at you.
Put it another way, what is the key resource available to learners. Is it me? Is it the University? Is it the internet? I would argue that
The most valuable resource available to a community of learners is each other
If we can somehow harness this resource in a more effective way than traditional methods we have a way to: deepen engagement; build stronger learning communities; scale learning; and add richness to the student experience. As a side effect we build high performing teams, give learners skills in teamwork, leadership, performance evaluation, and critical review.
Team Based Learning is a way to achieve all of this (but there are some challenges, drawbacks and limitations which I will explore in the next blog). My current plan of blog posts are as follows
- Motivation (this post)
- Caveats (problems, challenges, limitations)
- How to do it – the nuts and bolts.
- Top tips – some specific things that I learnt along the way
I will finish with a motivational picture of students hard at work in a TBL session.
If that’s not enough, have a look at these student comments:
It has been interesting and fun to learn using the method used, and I haven’t forgotten everything we’ve already done which you tend to feel happens when your module consists of normal lectures and an exam at the end. So it builds long term memory of the content covered.
Please do the RAT test again. The first two hours on Friday flew by (which would be impressive at any time, but for a Friday afternoon is bordering on a miracle) and it was a very effective method for learning
Hope that’s enough to whet your appetite!