Measuring Gains from Team-Based Learning

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Conference Proceeding

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Team-based learning is a formative-assessment approach (Michaelsen et al., 2004) that promotes student reading, encourages student discussion of content, warns the instructor about remaining gaps in student understanding, and frees up class time for active learning. At the beginning of class, each student takes a short multiple-choice quiz individually, to make sure that they’ve done the reading homework for that class. After the students have completed their individual quizzes, they take the same quiz together in small groups. They can discuss the questions and explain why they had chosen certain answers. The quizzes, especially the group quizzes, can be graded rapidly in class. The instructor can use the lecture time to review the topics that the student groups could not deal with effectively, and skip over the topics that the student groups mastered during or before the quiz.

Concepts in Geology (EES 345) is a required class for pre-service teachers pursuing licensure for grades pre-K-9 at Wright State University. Initially, we graded content learning in this class using 3 exams. Two of us revised the class in Fall 2007 and replaced the exams with weekly or semi-weekly quizzes based on the required reading. Students were each allowed to bring one double-sided page of notes to use on both the individual and group quizzes.

Overall, content learning appears to have increased since the revision of Concepts in Geology. Students took the Geoscience Concept Inventory (Libarkin and Anderson, 2005) at the beginning of the first class of the quarter and at the end of last class or final exam. Their average normalized score gain over the quarter increased from 17% in the exam-based sections (n=108) to 23% in the team-based learning sections (n = 111). Average group scores are usually higher than the highest average individual score in that group.


Presented at the 46th Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America North-Central Section, Dayton, OH.

Paper Number 20-6.

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