Group Learning Methods in Health Science
Developed in the late 1970s, team-based learning (TBL) was created by Dr. Larry Michaelsen to instruct a business course with a large group of students. He decided to direct his energy to group activities instead of lecture, and students found the strategy beneficial; they learned more, and he had more fun teaching.
With TBL, students are expected to prepare before class. One teacher runs various groups simultaneously, making it optimal for classes with many students but few instructors. Many programs that employ TBL as a teaching strategy also use individual and team testing, allowing students to take a test by themselves and then collaborate as a group after. Some use Immediate Feedback Assessment Technique (IF-AT) forms for team testing that are said to improve the quality of the student discussion, that work similarly to scratch-off tickets. It can be concluded that TBL would be even more beneficial within fields where students are expected to ultimately work as a team or employ thorough problem-solving skills.
While TBL is used extensively in the medical field, case based learning (CBL) and problem based learning (PBL) are becoming increasingly popular approaches in educating students in health-related programs. Many medical schools track courses that use PBL and CBL in their curriculum. Using curriculum mapping software, like eCurriculum, can make it easier to see what courses are utilizing these techniques at a glance.
PBL and CBL are mostly used to simulate patient cases, whether it is to create care plans, diagnose illnesses, or practice bedside manner. PBL groups focus on solving problems using independent learning and teamwork. There is one facilitator per group, but they are usually just observers. PBL is considered an effective approach to guide medical students to fully understand clinical diagnoses and treatment. PBL is considered an “open inquiry approach”.
CBL groups focus on creative problem solving with the advantage of advance preparation. Facilitators tend to participate more in these groups. With the aid of guiding questions, facilitators keep students on task. Students are expected to prepare in advance for sessions, and many groups have post-session work, depending on the program. CBL is considered a “guided inquiry approach”.
Studies show that students tend to prefer the CBL method to the PBL method. They believe that the CBL format made better use of class time, had fewer tangents, and was more efficient. In consolation, faculty felt that PBL encourages independent learning.