Edited by John Ishiyama, William J. Miller and Eszter Simon
Chapter 29: Designing team-based learning activities
Group activities such as discussions or simulations have been common features of political science education for a long time—not surprisingly, considering the fact that politics is a social endeavor. Group learning is difficult, though, as students often resist cooperation as they compete for grades or find it difficult to schedule meetings for groups. As a result, group work often dissolves into individual work by a group of students and the potential of cooperative education—students learning from each other and developing knowledge on their own—remains untapped. Team-Based Learning (TBL) is an educational approach that attempts to overcome the difficulties of group learning. Developed since the 1980s by Larry Michaelsen, then a professor of management at the University of Oklahoma, TBL lets students acquire foundational knowledge on their own before class and uses class time for highly structured group activities and discussions that help students apply the material to important problems (Michaelsen, Knight and Fink 2004; Sweet and Michaelsen 2012a). A system of graded individual and group assignments provides incentives for students to work individually and in their groups. The term ‘team’ instead of ‘group’ indicates that students are expected to be responsible not only for their own learning but also for the learning of their teammates, with whom they collaborate throughout the entire semester.
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