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Jim Sibley shares about Team-based Learning.
Team-based learning has come up a few times on the show previously (Dr. Chrissy Spencer in Episode 25). Today, however, we dive deep into this teaching approach and discover powerful ways to engage students with Dr. Jim Sibley.
Guest: Jim Sibley
Jim Sibley is Director of the Centre for Instructional Support at the Faculty of Applied Science at University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada. As a faculty developer, he has led a 12-year implementation of Team-Based Learning in Engineering and Nursing at UBC with a focus on large classroom facilitation. Jim has over 33 years of experience in faculty support, training, and facilitation, as well as managing software development at UBC. Jim serves on the editorial board of the Journal on Excellence in College Teaching.
Jim is an active member of the Team-Based Learning Collaborative and has served on its board and many of its sub-committees. He has mentored colleagues in the Team-Based Learning Collaborative’s Train the Trainer mentorship program. He is a co-author of the new book Getting Started with Team-Based Learning that was published by Stylus in July 2014. He is an international team-based learning consultant, having worked at schools in Australia, Korea, Pakistan, Lebanon, United States, and Canada to develop team-based learning programs.
Jim’s Book: Getting Started With Team-Based Learning
Jim's Website: www.learntbl.ca
More About Jim’s Personal Story:
Team-Based Learning Defined
- A form of small-group learning that gets better with the bigger size of class you have. The idea is to discuss the question until you get to some sort of consensus.
Team-based learning could easily be called decision-based learning, because as soon as you make a decision, you can get clear and focused feedback. That’s what team-based learning is all about.
- Think about a jury, where you need brainpower. Then imagine you’re presenting the verdict, and you look around and see five other juries, on the same case as you. You can bet they’ve put a lot of thought into the verdict, and if they all have a different verdict than you, you can bet they’re going to give feedback.
- Team-based learning is not a prohibition on lecturing…but it’s in smaller amounts, and it’s for a reason like answering a student need or question. An activity will often make students wish they knew about something, then you teach it.
- The Achilles heel of group work are students at different levels of preparedness. Team discussion has a nice leveling effect.
- Experience shows that smaller teams are the ones that have the most trouble
- 5-7 students is the ideal size for a group.
- Big teams work because you’re asking them to make a decision, and that’s something teams are naturally good at.
- Because team-based learning is focused on teaching with decisions, there is less opportunity for people to ride on the coattails of others.
- Instructors don’t have to teach about team dynamics or decision-making processes because teams are naturally motivated to engage in good discussion (if their conclusion is different than every other group, there will naturally be a lot of feedback).
The Team-Building Process:
- The instructor builds teams, trying to add diversity to each team.
- The instructor of a large class can do an online survey for diversity of assets.
- Even freshman classes can have diversity (different people are better at different subjects).
- CATME has an online team maker function, as does GRumbler.
Should students ever elect their own teams?
- Student-selected teams are typically a disaster, mostly because they’re a social entity, and you tend to pick people that are the same as you.
- It does work when students are passionate about the project.
Team-based learning requires commitment:
- Team-based learning is something you have to commit to, not just something you try on for a day. it’s not a pedagogy that you can sprinkle on top of your lecture course; it’s a total change to the contract between you and your students.
- It used to be that you were a “sage on the stage” or a “guide on the side.” Team-based learning means you’re a “sage on the side.”
- Roles change. Everybody is uncomfortable at the beginning; students are in a new role, you’re in a new role.
- You’ll get some student resistance, but if you commit, student evaluations at the end of the semester will show that students rate team-based learning courses better than conventional ones.
- Teachers who do commit talk about “joy” and say things like “I’m falling in love with teaching again” and “class is so much fun.”
When should we use Team-based learning? Any cautions?
- It works for all disciplines, but if you, as a teacher, are a last-minute person, be cautious with team-based learning. Because you’re making your students uncomfortable, and they’re looking for someone to pin it on, and if you’re disorganized, you'll become a target.
- For teachers, it’s a similar amount of work as a traditional course, but because you have to do all the work upfront, it might seem like more.
- Jim's Site: www.learntbl.ca
- Jim's Book: “Getting Started with Team-Based Learning”
- Use the ERIC database to research your topic
- Use peer-evaluation tools like those available on CATME
- Bonni uses Feedly to subscribe to student blogs. It serves up all new student posts in one place, saving her from having to go to each blog individually. Feedly Pro allows you to gather student blogs, and then students can subscribe to the class collection with one click.
- Jim recommends an article in the Journal of Excellence in College Teaching by Bill Roberson and Billie Franchini. The article discusses why some teaching activities seem to crash while some seem to soar.
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