Team-Based Learning

TBL banner image

Comments? Contact IEE.

1. Objectives

After completing this module, viewers will be able to:
  1. Define the essential components of a team-based learning exercise.
  2. Compare and contrast team-based learning with other forms of learning.
  3. List the 4 S’s of team-based learning.
  4. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of team-based learning.
  5. Create a team-based learning exercise.

2. Preparation in Advance

Exercise 1

Define your concept of “team-based learning” and articulate 3 ways it differs from other small group learning.

3. The Module

1. Overview and Definition

In this module you will learn about team-based learning (TBL) and how to implement it in your teaching. TBL is not another name for small groups, and it’s not the same as problem-based learning (PBL). Students can work in teams in any of these, but TBL is different.

So what is it?

Video: Listen as Dr. Borowitz describes TBL in more detail.

4. Application of the Module

Exercise 1

Compare and contrast the role of the instructor and the students in team-based learning. For more details, visit the TBL collaborative webpage (

5. Next Steps and Peer Coaching

Exercise 1

Now that you have completed the module, define 2 topics that may be well-suited to the TBL format; name 2 that may not. How did your thinking change after completing the module?

6. Summary Points


We will wrap up this module by comparing and contrasting TBL to other forms of small group learning

  • In problem-based learning, the groups decide what they want to learn; in TBL, it is the instructor that decides the content of each component of the process.
  • In many small groups, different students get asked about different aspects of a problem; in TBL, all teams work on the same problem.
  • Many small group discussions center around open-ended questions; in TBL the problems are very focused and students give specific answers that are then critiqued in open discussion.

Finally, it’s worth reviewing the overall structure of TBL.


About the Author

mjbMichael J. Borowitz, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Pathology and Deputy Director for Education, Dept of Pathology
Member of the IEE Managing Board
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Module Editor

Joseph Cofrancesco Jr., MD, MPH, FACP
Director of the Institute for Excellence in Education
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Institute for Excellence in Education Professor of Medicine
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine