The Early Milestones of Team-based Learning: The Key is Sustained Practice


Background: To explore students’ perceptions of team-based learning (TBL) initial implementation in a medical school in Saudi Arabia.

Methods: This descriptive study used the validated TBL-Student Assessment Instrument (TBL-SAI) to gauge students’ perception of TBL in three subscales: accountability, preference, and satisfaction. Study participants were fourth-year students at the College of Medicine in Prince Sattam Bin Abdul Aziz University, studying a nine-week introductory surgery course in the academic year 2019–2020. Descriptive statistics using the mean scores were used to highlight the results.

Results: Thirty-three students participated in the study. While the mean scores for the three subscales were: accountability 30 (SD 6.6) (neutral score = 24), preference 43.2 (SD 10.8) (neutral score = 48), and satisfaction 25.2 (SD 8.9) (neutral score = 27), the mean of the total questionnaires’ scores was 98.4 (SD 21.8) (neutral score = 99). Students expressed a minor level of accountability, poor preference and satisfaction, and an overall low rating of TBL activities.

Conclusion: Low students’ engagement with TBL is likely attributed to their unfamiliarity with this approach and the hostility that they may experience when challenged to refrain from passive learning habits and take an active role toward their learning. Lack of the necessary skills and experience to facilitate TBL encounters and the educational climate where didactic teaching is pervasive may be other factors. Exposure to TBL may initially be associated with poor students’ perception. Perseverance, strong commitment alongside adequate institutional support are necessarily required to mitigate poor outcomes.

Keywords: active learning, passive learning, team-based learning, Saudi Arabia

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