Welcome new readers!

The "New to the blog? Start here" page will give you an overview of the blog and point you to some posts you might be interested in. You can also subscribe to receive future posts via RSS, Facebook or Twitter using the links on the right-hand side of the page, or via email by entering your address in the box. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

TBL: Student reactions

[See previous posts for TBL basics, readiness assessments, team applications and peer evaluations/team grades]

At the end of every semester, I survey my students specifically about both PollEverywhere and TBL. The questions are largely adapted from a survey that SDSU's Instructional Technology Services asks all clicker-using faculty to give. I've summarized the responses from the last three semesters (click on the image to see full-size). Response was most positive (highest percentages agreeing or strongly agreeing with most of the statements) in Spring 2011, when I had two sections of 75 students each; the positive responses fall a little in the 2011-12 school year (not sure why) but over 80% still said TBL makes them more likely to attend class and to feel more involved in class, about two-thirds would choose a TBL section over another section of the same course that does not use TBL, and (most important to me) over three-quarters still said that they felt they gained a deeper understanding of the material with TBL compared to traditional lectures.

The open-ended comments had similar percentages of positive responses. A lot of students felt that TBL 'made class more fun' and 'was totally different from any class I've taken, in a good way'. Here are two comments that capture attitudes that seem pretty typical for most students:
"Team based learning was very helpful, it let you discuss things with your group and clear things up. I know many people including myself tend to hold back with questions when confused because of 1) not being able to form a good solid question because of the confusion or 2) being embarrassed to ask a question that may make you look stupid. With team based learning that kind of confusion was easily cleared up."
"At first i was very apprehensive about the team group. When i learned that the whole class is developed around teams i said to myself "oh here we go, others are gonna band wagon on few people's hard work" as it always turns out that way with teams. However the way Professor Imazeki set up the teams really worked out well. Everyone had good input. At some point i started to miss a few classes due to personal reasons and my team members motivated me, check up on me and brought me back to class. I enjoyed working on my own at home and comparing my findings with my teammates in order to reach collaborative answers in class. I have never had such great experience with team work.  I would love to have other classes designed around this kind of team work versus team project where the pressure usually falls on one or two people who care."
Not all students love TBL
In every class, there have been a few comments along the lines of "It would have helped if the professor had explained things a little more", and a handful of students have been downright hostile. In at least two of those cases, I think the students were more frustrated by the material, rather than the method (that is, they hated that there wasn't always a 'right answer' to everything). A few students commented on what they saw as free-riding behavior, noting that not all group members always participate equally but they get credit for the team RAs and applications. To me, those comments indicate the students don't entirely understand how the peer evaluations impact the team part of the grade - if a student really isn't contributing, then the rest of the team should give them a lower evaluation score and they don't get the same credit for team efforts. As I write this, it dawns on me that maybe this fall, I should use those comments as part of my explanation of how the evaluations will work...

I tend to fixate on the few students who give negative feedback but overall, once students understand why I am using TBL, and once they see that this is not like other group work they have experienced in the past, the vast majority enjoy it, if not prefer it to typical lectures. I do think it's important to lay the groundwork on the first day, to explain to students exactly why we will be using TBL and why I believe it is a better learning experience for them than listening to me lecture. In my next post, I'll wrap up this series with some discussion of how to get that buy-in from students and also some thoughts on basic team logistics.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments that contribute to the discussion are always welcome! Please note that spammy comments whose only purpose seems to be to direct traffic to a commercial site will be deleted.