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Table 4 Students perceptions of Team-based learning, including best and most difficult features (N = 152)

From: Team-based learning (TBL) in the medical curriculum: better than PBL?

Theme Examples of student comments No. of similar responses
Best features of Team-based learning
 Presence of Experts   89/152
Students found it valuable to have continual access to content experts as facilitators who would provide accurate information, feedback, promote and focus discussion, and reinforce knowledge
They liked the immediate feedback that was continuously provided by the tutors following quizzes, and during the clinical problem solving activities
Senior clinicians provided a clinical context
Having multiple experts present to ask questions and explain the disease properly, really helped focus the discussions
I liked that we have people at hand who really know their stuff instead of a volunteer with sometimes little knowledge of the topic as with PBL.
Definitely the presence of tutors that specialised in the topic, because our questions can be properly answered. The session is also more efficient, tackling the most relevant aspects (clinical features and pathogenesis)
Having the experts available in the room and giving us proper information and case studies and talking about their experiences in the clinic - much better than the tutors in PBL (worth the swap to TBL for this)
 Readiness Assurance Process with discussion and feedback   98/152
The tests and feedback at the beginning of class helped to focus the session
The tests helped students to reflect on their acquired knowledge and gaps in the knowledge
Tests motivated students to prepare, and encouraged friendly competition between groups.
Competition at the beginning of the lesson helped focus the discussion. It also ensured that everyone had the requisite knowledge to effectively participate in the TBL. Tests cause better focus. Experts gave definitive answers rather than questions.
I really enjoyed the first hour quizzes and explanations since I learned a lot from those instead of just discussing amongst ourselves without knowing if we were headed in the right direction. The test at the beginning points out what you don’t know and then moving forward you know what to pay attention to.
Quizzes to test learning/encourage people to do pre-work. MCQ as guide to what in pre-work was really important. Intergroup competition brings motivation.
 Smaller Groups   51/152
Students found small groups of 5 to 6 students encouraged discussion within groups.
Having multiple groups in one room also enriched the learning environment.
The smaller group size effectively enhanced communication between team members and the condensed time frame ensured streamlined and focussed discussions.
Smaller groups are better, helps discussion and discourages non-participation.Having multiple groups participate together also aided in learning.
 Effective, structured and focussed format of the sessions   82/152
Students found the TBLs provided continuity to their learning, and provided an efficient method to revise and build on previous knowledge.
Students found the structure of the TBL sessions helpful to direct their learning and increase participation
Students found the structure of the TBL sessions reinforced and built on their prior learning.
TBLs are phenomenal. They are as effective and useful as PBLs are ineffective and a waste of our time. TBL is more beneficial than 3 h of PBL so time effective. I like how it is only one session a week and that the key learning points are really emphasised.
More focused, efficient but useful in assessing understanding and enhancing/reintroducing previous knowledge.
Having a more structured discussion helped reduce time usually wasted in PBL. Shorter sessions equals less time in the week as contact hours – coupled with more high yield information. It was more concise than normal PBLs and the quizzes and pre-readings, really aided in learning. It feels like I learned more through TBLs than PBLs. The experts who were present at the sessions were very knowledgeable and helpful.
The session is structured in a way that is conducive for recapping and reinforcing our prior knowledge in certain topics.
 Pre-reading   28/152
Students found having set pre-reading helped students be on the same level, and aided collaboration Having a directed set of learning materials and readings helped the TBL to be a focused session increasing the yield of knowledge for the session…. meant we were more prepared to be effective straight away.
Most difficult features of Team-based learning
 Alignment of pre-readings   21/152
Students suggested the pre-readings should be more relevant to the test, with some compulsory, and some optional readings. Sometimes, I felt the readings weren’t as relevant to the questions in the test.
More focused readings with more background optional readings.
 Completion of all problem-solving activities   35/152
Many students indicated it was difficult to complete all of the problem-solving activities in the given time. Some suggested that an additional 15–30 min of class time would be helpful Perhaps make TBL an extra 15–30 min to ensure that the clinical problem has been resolved well enough.
Working through the clinical problem solving in an hour can be tough but it is useful and I feel as though I understand it a lot better afterwards
 Flow chart explanation   49/152
Students felt that further direction and discussion should be given around the flow-chart activity. Mechanism of the disease was challenging. More direction given with regards to the pathogenesis flowchart would help