Team-based learning: Pedagogy for the 21st century-effective, efficient and economical

Nagaswami S. Vasan, David O. DeFouw

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


It has long been recognized and advocated that student involvement is paramount for meaningful learning and better performance in higher education. In medical education over the last 30 years problem-based learning (PBL), then case-based learning, and more recently "concept-based learning' have been advocated and adopted with varying degrees of success. There is a growing body of evidence that Team-Based Learning (TBL) is an effective way to incorporate interactive small, peer group teaching with enthusiasm for learning. TBL incorporates various theories of adult learning such as cooperative theory (May & Doob, 1937); theory of margin, (McClusky, 1970), three dimensions of learning model, (Illeris, 2002, 2004b); model of learning process (Jarvis, 2006); lifelong, self-directed learning (Tough, 1967, 1971); transformational learning (Mezirow, 1991); and pedagogies of engagement (Edgerton, 2001). The concept of TBL focuses on learning defined by pre-class preparation and subsequent in-class team discussion. Faculty organizes the learning material to enable students to accept ownership of their own and their peers' learning. This results in groups that function as powerful learning teams. TBL is based on individual accountability and insures rigorous team interaction. This accomplishes both competence (what individuals know or are able to do in terms of knowledge, skills and attitude) and capability (extent to which individuals can adapt to generate new knowledge and continue to improve performance). The introductory section includes a narrative history of adult learning theory, assumptions, and theoretical underpinning, and related research that is fundamental to TBL. The chapter provides brief comparisons of TBL with other pedagogical formats and elaborates on the nuance of TBL strategy in postsecondary (e.g. medical) education. In addition, suggestions for actual TBL implementation, our success in adopting TBL, and voices of experience from us and others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPedagogy
Subtitle of host publicationNew Developments in the Learning Sciences
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages25
ISBN (Print)9781621008460
StatePublished - 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)


  • Cooperative learning
  • Problem-based learning
  • Team-based learning


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