Team-Based Learning

Kinesiology provides a wonderful foundation to build cross-disciplinary, interactive pedagogical experiences for students. The diversity and flexibility of the subject-matter often leads to quite a diverse cross-section of career goals from the student body. Instead of only challenging an instructor to integrate, this provides an opportunity to use these diverse backgrounds to facilitate learning throughout the classroom and semester.

As such, core and advanced kinesiology courses are the perfect context for team based learning models. I have found Michaelsen's original model a bit too structured, and have borrowed components from it to create a learning environment better matched for the content and constraints of specific courses. All of these concepts and ideas have evolved under the mentorship and suggestions from Dr. Ann Smiley-Oyen, the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, and the Ellbogen Center for Teaching and Learning.

At it's core, my team-based approach relies on a series of organizational and assignment strategies:

  • Students are arranged into permanent teams of 5-7 individuals for in-class exercises and assignments. They are sorted into teams that minimize homogeneity of career aspirations and previous course completion, without isolating demographics (for example, making sure to not create teams with 5 men and only one woman, or isolating a single racial minority). More information is available here.
  • Assignments are designed to first individually prepare students for the class session with pre-class quizzes online, and then evaluate the team's problem-solving skills with complex applications of content. Larger, application-based assignments encourage students to apply the theory to real-world contexts and generate their own data for analysis and interpretation. A database of these assignments and applications in biomechanics and motor control is under development.
  • Exams span core context and applications through a variety of question types. The latter are specifically designed to allow students to use their preferred academic and career contexts as examples. Exams also require students to collaborate together on a secondary set of more challenging questions, which generally allows for the positive reinforcement of correct ideas and transforms the exam process into a learning opportunity as well. As challenging questions from the individual portion of the exam may be better understood after team collaboration, I also allow students to individually revise their exam responses after submission and grading in order to earn partial points.
  • As the functional success of each students is, in part, a product of the team's efficacy, a respectable proportion of students' grades are team-assessed. Peer evaluation allows both a formative and summative opportunity for feedback. Distributed throughout the semester, students are allowed the opportunity for iterative improvement. Specifically, I use one peer evaluation as a formative dry run (worth no points, but required to complete), and then 2-3 later that could as a respectable proportion of the course grade (8-12% overall). As this is a relatively weighty assignment, I spend some time training students on strategies to provide valuable feedback to their peers. More information on this process (and strategies to reduce student bias) is available here.