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Team-based learning (TBL) is an "active learning, learner-centered, instructor-directed and small group instructional strategy that provides students with opportunities to apply conceptual knowledge through a sequence of activities that includes individual work, teamwork and immediate feedback." Learners are accountable for their own learning and are expected to prepare outside of class and to collaborate with their team members to solve authentic problems. Through the process of TBL, students learn how to work in teams. 
The four key components of TBL are:
  1. Strategically formed, permanent teams
  2. Readiness assurance
  3. Application activities that promote both critical thinking and team development
  4. Peer evaluation

Design of TBL Environments

A typical TBL course will be sequenced as such:
(1) Preclass Preparation: Individual study with preassigned readings

(2) Readiness Assurance: 

  • Students begin each unit of the course with a short test on their understanding of the assigned prereadings.
  • They then take that exact same test again as a team and must come to consensus on their team answers, They then get immediate feedback on their team answers. 
  • Team can appeal for "incorrect answers" to make a case for their answer by citing evidence from the assigned prereadings and by making clear argumentative statements.
  • Instructor reviews the team results to check which material is still not clear to the class and lectures briefly on that material.

(3) Application Activities:

  • Students then complete one or more higher-level application exercises in which they apply what they learned during the readiness tests to complex problems or case studies.
This process repeats for each unit of the course, with students filling out peer evaluations for members of their team a few times over the course of the term.
This sequence of activities shifts the focus of class time from content “delivery” to students actively helping each other learn how to apply the content. Therefore, students are engaged in higher-order cognitive thinking activities on how they can apply their understanding of the course content to real-life situations and problems. In addition, TBL uses peer assessment and feedback both to increase team members’ accountability to one another and to develop students’ team problem-solving and decision-making abilities.


  1. Michaelsen, L. K., & Sweet, M. (2011). Team-based learning. New Directions For Teaching & Learning, 2011(128), 41-51.
  2. Parmelee, D., Michaelsen, L. K., Cook, S., & Hudes, P. D. (2012). Team-based learning: A practical guide: AMEE Guide No. 65. Medical Teacher, 34(5), 275-287.
  3. Hosier, A. (2013). Using Team-Based Learning in an Online, Asynchronous Information Literacy Course. Journal Of Library Innovation, 4(2), 111-121.
  4. Parmelee, D. X., & Michaelsen, L. K. (2010). Twelve tips for doing effective Team-Based Learning (TBL). Medical Teacher, 32(2), 118-122


Last updated on 22 Apr 2017 .