Monday 13 July 2015

Track A3 - The Use of MCQs within Team Based Learning: Choosing the Right Approach to Foster Student Learning

Dr Venetia Brown, Dr Kevin Corbett, Icram Serroukh
Middlesex University, School of Health and Education

How do you sell the importance of research skills to nursing students? Nursing students know they are not going to be researchers. They can’t quite work out the relevance research has to nursing. So they hate it.

Venetia’s interest in team based learning started a couple of years ago after seeing Jenny Morris from Plymouth University present at a Nurse Education Today conference. Venetia was so impressed with the approach that she visited Plymouth and saw TBL in action. On returning to Middlesex she consulted the BSc Nursing programme teaching team.

Icram, a graduate teaching assistant has been working alongside Venetia, Kevin and the research methods teaching team to implement the TBL approach with the September 2015 nursing student cohort. Icram says TBL is a small group facilitation process that can be used with large cohorts (200 or more), where small permanent groups of 5 to 7 students work together. The permanency allows group cohesion to develop, ‘research has shown that after time, students become more concerned about the group’s performance rather than their own individual performance’. Although physical space is needed, the approach can be used in lecture theatres.

Is TBL a structured method of flipping the classroom? Does it portray the ideals behind ‘assessment for learning’? The first phase of TBL asks students to go through learning materials before the session, this phase is timetabled into the module and all learning materials are electronically made available through the module’s online space. Interestingly each resource has time recommendations and explicitly flagged up objectives so students understand what is required from them.

The second phase ‘readiness assurance’, consists of 5 sessions, the first session is an introductory session, used to familiarise students with the process of TBL. The remaining sessions takes up to 1 ½ hours. The first part of each session start off with an Individual Readiness Assurance Test (iRAT), a MCQ test, with 15 to 20 questions that goes towards 70% of the module’s summative assessment grade. The second part is the Team Readiness Assurance Test (tRAT), exactly the same iRAT test is taken by the group. Use of Immediate Feedback Assessment Technique (IF-AT) cards forefronts the team’s discussions of the iRAT test.

This approach generates student excitement around learning by introducing game-based or gambling-based approach to team learning. IF-AT cards are similar to lottery scratch cards, the teams must discuss and agree on a correct response before scratching. The correct response reveals a star and awards the maximum 4 points, however negative marking comes into play for incorrect responses. The discussion around the answer in addition to providing feedback for iRAT tests allows students to delve more deeply and critically into the question and share their individual understanding and knowledge with other team members. The tRAT team score contributes 30% of the module’s summative grade.

The final stage, the application of course concepts, can last between 2 or 4 hours. In this module this phase is formatively assessed and involves the group members collaboratively working on a case study. The same case study is used across all groups.

Watch the recording of this presentation to find out more …

Report by Asanka Dayananda, Senior Academic Developer, Centre for Academic Practice Enhancement (CAPE)

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