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5 ways to stimulate collaboration with FeedbackFruits Team Based Learning

Julie Wolff
Rebecca LeBoeuf
Rebecca LeBoeuf
March 23, 2023
Table of Contents

Team-based learning is a pedagogical practice that allows students to go beyond rote memorization of knowledge. In its essence, TBL focuses on giving students the chance  to apply their knowledge to solve single or multiple problems in a group context. With the rise of online and hybrid learning, instructors face several challenges when facilitating TBL, namely maintaining and monitoring students’ engagement during the Preparation stage; reducing non-contribution in the tRAT and classroom activities stage; saving time designing and creating a TBL activity, and more. 

This is why we decided to launch the Team Based Learning tool in collaboration with IE Business School and Deakin University, to help faculties address these pain points and facilitate a smooth TBL process. So how exactly can the tool be used and integrated into your curriculum? This article will share 5 tips in which faculties can harness the potential of the Team Based Learning tool.

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1) Build effective & small teams

To create a solid foundation for your TBL set-up, we recommend forming effective teams based upon attributes that seem particularly crucial. This can provide diverse input on how to solve problems, improving both performance and learning [1]. Effective teams typically contain a diverse range of characters, beliefs, and backgrounds, thereby joining peers with various characteristics and viewpoints. When possible, teams of 4-6 students are small enough to cultivate individual contributions without undervaluing or overpopulating a variety of perspectives [2].

2) Utilize the Individual pre-work step

In the TBL method, before starting with the iRAT and tRAT steps, your students probably do some pre-class preparation work. In our Team Based Learning tool, it is now possible to include the Individual pre-work step. This step can be added optionally by clicking on the + button at the very bottom when creating or editing an activity. By including this step, any relevant content in the form of a document or video for example, could give you the possibility to focus more on interesting observations and conversations that arise during classes rather than only going over the learning resources or the readings. In addition, better pre-class preparation will optimize the performances of your students, also when it comes to the iRAT and the tRAT.

Read more about this function in this article.

Instructors can add multimedia content in FeedbackFruits Team Based Learning
Instructors can add multimedia content in FeedbackFruits Team Based Learning

3) Implement Deadlines

This allows you to decide when students can access and not have access, even during class. Setting deadlines gives students a clear time frame of when to complete both the iRAT and tRAT and encourages your students to perform competently as well.

Adjust deadline for either the iRAT or tRAT step in Team Based Learning tool
Adjust deadline for either the iRAT or tRAT step in Team Based Learning tool

4) Integrate formative and summative assessments throughout the TBL process

Configuring which facets of the activity should be weighed more heavily in the students grade when it comes to their performance on the iRAT and tRAT allows for your students to critically reflect on their performances  in order to make improvements. Similarly, you could choose to implement mid- and end-peer evaluations of teammates after the TBL assignment has finished by adding Group Member Evaluation into the mix. These assessments can keep students motivated and responsible by providing feedback to boost team spirit [2].

 5) Keep it simple and encourage discussions

TBL assignments should provide group interactions, in which decision-making processes are accentuated and discussions stimulated. These assignments, consequently, should not be too lengthy and complex since this might limit both learning and team development. Give your students the opportunity to discuss the TBL process, this can be done by adding the peer evaluation step in which your students can give and receive feedback on each other’s contributions. Make sure to set up clear criteria beforehand, determine whether self-assessment is also required or not even outliers can be detected by enabling ‘Automatic outlier detection’. After setting up, the students will get allocated to peers within their groups and can take the lessons learned with them for the next session.

A peer evaluation step can be added at the end of the TBL activity
A peer evaluation step can be added at the end of the TBL activity

Utilizing Team Based Learning at Boston College

If you want to improve your current course design by not so much going over the learning resources or the readings but want to focus more on analyses, creativity, and conversation in the classroom, then Team based Learning is your answer. One of the issues that Kyle Johnson from Boston College experienced was that a lot of class time was spent on getting students up to speed on the reading because they either did not do it or were not able to comprehend the material ahead of time. TBL helped Kyle enormously and gave his students a way in which they encountered the material at different times. After reading into it for the first time, they then took the individual assessments (iRAT), and then took on the test as a team.

"I think it was effective, because one I noticed by the middle to the end of the semester, their written assignments, and the conversations we were having in class were deeper, like they were more complex, they were asking better questions. They were writing about more difficult subjects in their papers than they had before. Because I think they really got past that basic retention and comprehension level much more quickly and effectively." – Dr. S. Kyle. Johnson, Boston College

Having an extensive number of students, but still wanting to be able to provide small-scale and qualitative education is something that was recognised at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam as well. Team-based Learning was an excellent solution to this problem because the current course did not have to be modified a lot and by applying TBL, they could still implement innovative methods where students were able to learn by discussing assignments and using discussions to teach themselves and each other [3].


[1] Rinaldi. (2020, October). What is team-based learning?4 best strategies [Updated 2022].

[2] Yale Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning. (2021, June 30). Team-Based Learning. Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning.

[3]  Erasmus University Rotterdam. (2021, December 9). Team Based Learning- Interview with Janneke de Jong.

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