Ready to learn physics: a team-based learning model for first year university

Maria Parappilly, Lisa Schmidt, Samantha-Jane De Ritter

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    16 Citations (Scopus)


    Team-based learning (TBL) is an established model of group work which aims to improve students ability to apply discipline-related content. TBL consists of a readiness assurance process (RAP), student groups and application activities. While TBL has not been implemented widely in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines, it has been effective in improving student learning in other disciplines. This paper describes the incorporation of TBL activities into a non-calculus based introductory level physics topic - Physics for the Modern World. Students were given pre-class preparation materials and an individual RAP online test before the workshops. The pre-workshop individual RAP test ensured that all students were exposed to concept-based questions before their workshops and motivated them to use the preparatory materials in readiness for the workshop. The students were placed into random teams and during the first part of the workshop, the teams went through a subset of the quiz questions (team RAP test) and in the remaining time, teams completed an in-class assignment. After the workshop students were allowed another attempt at the individual RAP test to see if their knowledge had improved. The ability of TBL to promote student learning of key concepts was evaluated by experiment using pre- and post- testing. The students' perception of TBL was monitored by discussion posts and survey responses. Finally, the ability of TBL to support peer-peer interaction was evaluated by video analysis of the class. We found that the TBL process improved student learning; students did interact with each other in class; and the students had a positive view of TBL. To assess the transferability of this model to other topics, we conducted a comparison study with an environmental science topic which produced similar results. Our study supports the use of this TBL model in science topics.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number055052
    Number of pages13
    JournalEuropean Journal of Physics
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2015


    • group work
    • student engagement
    • team-based learning


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