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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 45  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 102--103

Introducing team based learning in undergraduate pharmacology

Yeshwanth K Rao, Ganesh K Shenoy 
 Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Kasturba Medical College-International Center (KMC-IC), Manipal, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Yeshwanth K Rao
Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Kasturba Medical College-International Center (KMC-IC), Manipal, Karnataka

How to cite this article:
Rao YK, Shenoy GK. Introducing team based learning in undergraduate pharmacology.Indian J Pharmacol 2013;45:102-103

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Rao YK, Shenoy GK. Introducing team based learning in undergraduate pharmacology. Indian J Pharmacol [serial online] 2013 [cited 2022 Sep 26 ];45:102-103
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Pedagogic approaches used in medical education have been changing and a variety of new teaching strategies are used to promote active learning. [1] Working effectively within teams has been recognized by medical educators as an important competency for learners. Teams are increasingly being used in medical education to enhance active learning and foster better interpersonal communication skills. [2]

Team based learning (TBL) is a student-centered but instructor-led method of learning, first introduced by Michaelsen for teaching large classes in business schools. The method employs strategies to incorporate the effectiveness of small group learning methods like Problem based learning (PBL) into large-group lecture oriented sessions. The essential components to this strategy include advance preparation, team formation, readiness assurance testing, group application exercises and peer evaluation. The effective use of TBL requires redesigning a course from beginning to end, with the planning starting well before the start of the term. [3] Team-Based Learning has been described as bringing "together theoretically based and empirically grounded strategies for incorporating the effectiveness of small-group learning into large-group, lecture-oriented sessions. Team-Based Learning ses­sions provides many active learning sessions in small group format. [4]

TBL allows a single instructor to manage multiple small groups simultaneously in one classroom and has the potential to promote small group, interactive learning without requiring large numbers of faculty facilitators. The primary purpose of TBL is to maintain a high level of content learning, enhance application learning both at a quantitative and qualitative level, and support the development of interpersonal and team skills of the students. A central tenet of TBL as an instructional strategy in higher education curricula holds that students should learn more about the benefits of self-study and team work. [1]

This exercise was introduced to the 6th semester batch of 36 (N) students, who were randomly assigned to six teams of six students each. Previous qualifying exam (1 st MBBS) grades were used to form groups and ensure that the groups were equally balanced with respect to average (grade B), above average (grade A and above) and below average (grade C) students. Students were oriented about TBL in advance and gave verbal consent for participation in the study. 'Pharmacology of fluoroquinolones' was the topic selected for TBL since chemotherapy was being taught as per the teaching schedule during this period. Learning objectives were first defined by the faculty. Six cases, one for each team, were constructed for these learning objectives. The learning objectives, case histories and the logistics of TBL were conveyed to the students 2 weeks in advance. Students were clearly instructed to prepare for the cases (self directed learning based on the cases and the learning objectives) and report for the TBL sessions in their respective teams.

A pretest comprising of 5 MCQs was conducted. This was followed by the presentation of the cases by the groups. Some groups used PowerPoint for discussion of the case. The facilitator intervened only in case of any clarification or some direct queries by the students. The groups discussed the cases among themselves and with other groups. All the relevant concepts relevant to the topic were discussed in an interactive manner. Following the case discussion, students were subjected individually to post tests comprising of 5 MCQs. The key to these MCQs (pre and post test) were discussed by the facilitator after the conclusion of TBL. The TBL session ended with a feedback questionnaire comprising of ten items (all positive items) based on a five point Likert scale. The pretest and the posttest scores were analyzed statistically using the Mann Whitney test. A very significant difference between the pretest (3.667 ± 0.82) and the post test (4.24 ± 0.66) scores was observed (p = 0.0052).

The post test questionnaire about the experience of the students about TBL and showed mixed responses. Out of 10 items on the questionnaire, majority of the students 'agreed' to items 1 (better knowledge gained), 2 (understanding better with TBL) and 4 (TBL reduces the time required for self-study), 'not sure' on items 7 (TBL increased self-confidence) and 8 (facilitates team work), 'disagreed' on items 5 (will recommend to other departments or institutions), 6 (team learning better than individual learning), 9 (TBL better than PBL) and 10 (complete satisfaction with TBL). The single net average median score for the items on the questionnaire was 3.63 indicating a tendency towards positive response for all the questions.

Team-Based Learning ses­sions provided many active learning sessions in small group format. We felt that it was important to explore the utility of such an active learning strategy and the students' feedback working within teams given that it was a new teaching approach in Pharmacology. This study was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of TBL and possibly adopt it in the regular curriculum for certain topics in Pharmacology with a potential for clinical application.


I sincerely thank FAIMER-CMCL, Institution Ethics Committee (IEC), the Dean, my colleague Mr. Ganesh Shenoy and the students for their help in conducting this project.


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