Role of team dynamics in the learning process: a mixed-methods evaluation of a modified team-based learning approach in a behavioral research methods course
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Health sciences education is increasingly focusing on building students’ skills to work collaboratively. Therefore, instructors must intentionally incorporate team-based skill building into their courses, using teaching strategies like team-based learning (TBL). An assumption of TBL is that team dynamics facilitate learning; however, limited research has examined this connection. The primary purposes of this mixed-methods evaluation were: (a) to describe the characteristics of team dynamics in a graduate-level research methods course that employs a modified TBL approach, and (b) to examine the association between team dynamics and student grades. Given the importance of preparing health professional students to work collaboratively in their careers, a secondary aim was to examine how team skills developed through a team-based learning approach could be transferred to other courses and to future jobs. We conducted surveys on team dynamics at mid-semester (n = 64) and the end of the semester (n = 66), collected students’ grades for the final paper and overall course, and conducted 4 focus groups with Master of Public Health students (n = 25). Paired t tests were used to examine change in team dynamics and correlations were conducted to assess the relationship between team dynamics and grades. Thematic analysis was used to identify themes related to team dynamics from the focus group data. Overall, students reported experiencing positive and beneficial team dynamics. The findings support two main underlying categories of team dynamics, interpersonal team processes and task orientation, and the linkages between the categories that allow teams to function. Team dynamics scores were not associated with student grades. However, students recognized the value of practicing team skills in preparation for future group work and jobs. These findings suggest that active learning approaches, such as TBL, can help to facilitate the acquisition of collaborative skills.
KeywordsCollaborative learning Health sciences education Mixed-methods Public health Team-based learning Team dynamics
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