• Vol. 37 No. 12, 1019–1023
  • 15 December 2008

Does Team Learning Motivate Students’ Engagement in an Evidence-based Medicine Course?

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ABSTRACT

Introduction: Small group-based instructional methods such as team learning have been shown to produce positive educational outcomes. To motivate students’ learning in an evidence-based medicine course, we explore team learning as a teaching strategy, and describe students’ engagement and preference for this mode of learning.

Materials and Methods: An adaptation of team learning was implemented in September 2007 for all Year 2 Medical undergraduates attending the Principles in Evidence-Based Medicine course at the National University of Singapore. First, each student attempted a multiple-choice question individually. Next, the student discussed the same question with his/her team and provided a group response. Individual and group answers were recorded using keypads and Turning Point software. Students’ engagement and preference for team learning were measured using a self-reported Likert Scale instrument. The pattern of engagement in team learning was compared with conventional tutorial involving the same cohort of students using χ2 trend test.

Results: A total of 224 (88%) and 215 (84%) students responded to the surveys on team learning and conventional tutorial respectively. Overall, students reported a higher level of engagement with team learning than conventional tutorial. However, regardless of the mode of instruction, the students were equally likely to pay attention in class. Sixty-nine per cent of students found team learning more enjoyable than conventional tutorial, with 73% preferring this mode of learning. There was a tendency for the percentage of correct responses to improve after group discussion.

Conclusions: Team learning is the preferred mode of learning by Year 2 students attending the evidence-based medicine course. It promoted a high level of students’ engagement and interaction in class.


Team-based learning (TBL) is a well-defined instructional strategy that has generated considerable interest within the medical education community because of its potential to promote active learning with a limited number of faculty facilitators. This mode of learning was originally developed more than 20 years ago for college business and science courses.

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