Team-Based Learning (TBL)

Why TBL?  

TBL is an effective approach to developing self-directed teams of students who engage in building baseline conceptual knowledge through peer interactions. Devised by Larry Michaelsen and his colleagues, the structured cooperative approach which TBL employs has become particularly popular in higher education due to its scalability and applicability to simulate real-world scenarios.

Features of TBL

When compared to other cooperative learning approaches, the major appeal of TBL is its ability to be employed for large class sizes. Many studies have confirmed its efficacy even for classes with more than 100 students. Another key difference is that TBL is structured into three main stages, which makes it relatively simple to implement. To support this implementation, TBL provides a set of guidelines in the form of four essential elements which are further explained below.


The Three Stages - In TBL, it is recommended that each major unit of instruction in a course is divided into the following three stages:


The three stages to Team-Based Learning
• Individual Study Students engage in some pre-reading (such as videos, articles, textbook chapters) prior to coming to class.
• Readiness Assurance This is the first in-class phase of TBL where students go through a series of tests, aimed to clarify and apply their pre-reading knowledge.
• Individual Test This quiz is the first in-class activity, and is most often in the form of multiple-choice questions.
• Team Test 1. After the individual quiz, the students would attempt the same quiz as a team.
2. The team must come to a common agreement on the answer and submit their answer using either a paper or online version of a self-scoring form known as the “intermediate feedback assessment technique”.
3. The team would receive immediate feedback on their answers.
4. The team must continue to answer until they get the correct answer.
• Written Appeal (Burning Questions) After the team test, the teams are allowed to appeal for their “wrong” answers by presenting their arguments. The faculty may award the teams if he or she accepts their argument.
• Instructor Feedback The last activity of the readiness assurance stage involves the faculty giving feedback on questions where there are common misunderstandings. This further supports every student to be ready for the application exercise.
• Application Exercise The final stage of TBL requires teams to solve a series of problems or cases using the learnt concepts.


The Four Essential Elements - In order for TBL to be most effective, Michaelsen and his colleagues recommend adhering to these four essential elements:

Four essential elements of team-based learning



In most implementations of TBL, the individual and team tests under the readiness assurance phase are graded. Similarly, the application exercises are graded. To ensure that individuals are accountable for contributing to the team, a peer assessment is also recommended at the end of the course.

For more details, please refer to Team-Based Learning: A Transformative Use of Small Groups in College Teaching (Michaelsen, Knight and Fink, 2004).

Enabling Technologies

At NTU, LAMS is extensively used as the platform for TBL. For more information on how to use LAMS for TBL, please visit this page.

For a list of other technologies, please refer to this page.

Professional Development

To find out more, please contact

Michaelsen, L. K., Knight, A. B., & Fink, L. D. (2004). Team-based learning: A transformative use of small groups in college teaching.

Michaelsen, L. K., & Sweet, M. (2008). The essential elements of team‐based learning. New directions for teaching and learning2008(116), 7-27.

Parmelee, D., Michaelsen, L. K., Cook, S., & Hudes, P. D. (2012). Team-based learning: a practical guide: AMEE guide no. 65. Medical teacher34(5), e275-e287.

Rajalingam, P., Rotgans, J. I., Zary, N., Ferenczi, M. A., Gagnon, P., & Low-Beer, N. (2018). Implementation of team-based learning on a large scale: Three factors to keep in mind. Medical teacher40(6), 582-588.

Swanson, E., McCulley, L. V., Osman, D. J., Scammacca Lewis, N., & Solis, M. (2019). The effect of team-based learning on content knowledge: A meta-analysis. Active learning in higher education20(1), 39-50.