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VIU Team-Based Learning Institute

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Vancouver Island University Team-Based Learning Institute

Inclusive Classrooms by Design: Ensuring that Group Work Really Works

Wednesday, December 7 and Friday, December 9, 2016

** Limited spaces available for KPU educators. Register now (see below). **

The broad diversity of students within institutions of higher learning makes it critical that our classrooms become not only inclusive, but proactively so. Having community is, for many students, the catalyst for academic engagement. But the existence of generally inclusive environments may not always be enough to ensure success.

How do we leverage a positive social dynamic for deeper student learning? A growing number of our colleagues at VIU have found an answer to this question through the use of a teaching and learning strategy called Team-Based Learning.

Team-based learning, in this case, is not simply the use of groups or even permanent student teams. It’s a comprehensive design strategy (developed by organizational behaviour specialist Larry Michaelsen) for turning our classrooms into close-knit communities of highly motivated learners.

Here is what faculty members using this method are saying:

  • “My students said they didn’t want to miss class so as not to let down their team mates.  In that same course, I noticed students who the semester before were under-performing were now leading in their groups.”
  • “I appreciated seeing the emergence of a healthy classroom community. And those moments when students begin to shine, particularly the marginal, shy, or reluctant – well that was awesome.”
  • “What I love about team-based learning is the power shift from the lecturer to the students – the students become responsible for learning the basics; and in learning the new material they are empowered to apply it to real-world, meaningful problems.  And in solving the problems in-class students struggle, fail, work collectively to try again, and sometimes with (or without) a little insight from me or other teams students eventually ‘get it’.”
  • “I watched students break free of their former cliques and learn to work with new people. I also witnessed students suddenly take a genuine interest in each other and explore their different cultures.”
  • “Almost all of [my students] were engaged in the discussions and activities. They were talking about the subject matter before and after class and they asked me deeper more insightful questions than in previous years.”

The team learning strategy is increasingly popular internationally, and has worked effectively in both large and small classes, both theoretical and applied courses, in science, math, philosophy, literature, history, health and nursing, business, technology and trades. It can be adapted to nearly any teaching situation. It is particularly effective in bringing energy to courses that are extremely heavy in dry content.

VIU’s Team-Based Learning Institute will be facilitated by Bill Roberson and Tine Reimers of VIU and UBC’s Jim Sibley. The program takes you through the complete design process for transforming a course using the Michaelsen Team-Based Learning Model. This offering is primarily for faculty members who will implement a Team-Based course beginning in January 2017. For a brief introduction to what this entails, please read this overview.

For more information on registration, please proceed to our Application-Registration page and provide us with a bit of information about your plans. 

Please address questions to Bill Roberson (bill.roberson@viu.ca), Curriculum, Teaching and Learning Specialist, Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning


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