Day 5: An exercise in Team Based Learning

Today’s inane image of the day:

No white coat is complete without a name badge! [I’m a bit unhappy with the fact that one of the edges is yellow… I think they need to change the ink on the card-making machine!]

Because of a recent comment, I thought tonight would be an appropriate time to address the question of what exactly Team Based Learning (TBL) means in relation to the OUWB School of Medicine. As I mentioned previously, today was our first TBL session — for a number of reasons, we decided to make it a practice one [whew — took a huge load off my back last night while I was preparing]. But regardless of the fact that this particular one did not factor into our grade, we treated it like a real one.
A TBL session runs for 3 hours and is composed of 3 parts: an IRAT, GRAT and an Application Exercise. IRAT = Individual Readiness Assurance Test, GRAT = Group Readiness Assurance Test, Application Exercise = new material to be answered open-note and within groups.
The IRAT is a multiple choice assessment with 90s per question allotted. Today’s IRAT consisted of mostly straightforward factual questions, but we were told that we would see more clinical vignettes [more similar questions we’d see on the boards] as we progressed further into the material. After we completed our scantrons and submitted them, we moved on to the GRAT, which is the exact same assessment as the IRAT, but this time we get to discuss within our teams/groups [and get 2min/question]. Instead of a scantron, we are given something called an IF-AT card, which is something like a scratch and win lottery ticket [except with much greater chances for success!]:
Each tan-colored square can be scratched off… if there’s a star, your team is correct for that question! For our cards, I believe we had 5 answer choices, so A-E. [This was copied from an instruction sheet for TBL — will have to find proper citation…]
 
The scoring for the IF-AT is as follows: if you scratch off the correct answer in the first try, your team receives 4 points, second try, 3, and so on until you scratch them all off and get a zero. It really does feel like playing a game when you’re scratching them off — we were all holding our breaths for one of them anxiously awaiting the reward of a star!
Finally, after the GRAT is complete and submitted, we move on to the application exercises. Today, our exercises were clinical vignettes with one question correlating with a particular part of the story. Basically we are given something completely new and a question that we can use whatever resources we want to, to answer it [to be fair, all of the questions were on topics that were discussed during the week, so all of us were exposed to what we were being assessed on]. After the teams decide on their answer and submit it via the team iClicker, then we hold up laminated cards with our selection. If all teams are in agreement, we move on. If not, then we discuss.
As for how much each part is worth — we decided that with a vote in our TBL groups. We have a total of 7 TBL sessions this semester and in total they are worth less than 20% of our BFCP grade.
What do I think? I love it. While I have some qualms with how efficient some of our discussion was, I do really think that this is a great way to learn material and to practice effective teamwork. Furthermore, it is much more clinically-relevant than much of the material we covered in lecture this week, so it was a nice breather from G-protein coupled receptors and all. Finally, it definitely doesn’t hurt that my group gets along phenomenally — we all contribute our strengths when doing group assignments and are all really respectful of each other.
In retrospect, I kind of wish the assessment was a graded one since I definitely passed. Alas, it was also nice to feel more relaxed about studying the material last night, so I have no complaints there.
Hopefully that gives you a good idea of how it works — in reality, it’s hard to understand until you do it yourself [if you interview here, you’ll get to experience it firsthand!].
Let me know if you have any questions by commenting… and now I’m off to bed.