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Team-Based Learning Theory Applied to Engineering Education: A Systematic Review of Literature

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Design in Engineering Education Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1175.1 - 24.1175.12



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Paper Authors


Homero Gregorio Murzi Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Orcid 16x16

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Homero is currently a PhD Student and Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He is also an assistant professor in the Industrial Engineering department at the National University of Tachira in Venezuela. He holds a Bachelor and Master degree in Industrial Engineering from the National University of Tachira in Venezuela and a Master in Business Administration from Temple University. Homero was member of the Fulbright program from 2011 to 2013.

Homero's current research interests are in active learning pedagogies, cultural differences, teamwork, and entrepreneurship education.

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Team-Based Learning Theory Applied to Engineering Education: A Systematic Review of LiteratureThe Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) and industry are demandingthat engineering schools produce graduates with problem solving skills and able to work ingroups effectively (Terenzini, Cabrera, Colbeck, Parente, & Bjorklund, 2001). Research done bySeely (1999) and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) (2012) assert thatimproving teaching practices is necessary to help students develop those skills. The authors makeemphasis on the importance of collaborative teaching strategies as a pillar of the development offuture engineers. Similarly a report from the Executive Office of the President President’sCouncil of Advisors on Science and Technology (2012) recommended the incorporation ofactive learning in engineering education.According to Terenzini et al. (2001) traditional teaching methods in engineering education do notproduce necessary creative thinking or teamwork skills; collaborative learning, however, hasbeen shown to promote those skills. Several authors, such as Haidet, Khrisnan, Michaelsen,Knight, and Fink (as cited in Freeman, 2012, p.156; and as cited in Gallegos and Peeters, 2011,p.30), have done research in the medical education field focusing on team-based learning (TBL)as an instructional strategy and have demonstrated favorable results in the students learningoutcomes. In the engineering education field, however, there are few examples of team-basedlearning strategies implemented. In research done in the field, TBL is commonly confused withcollaborative learning and cooperative learning. The Team based learning model used byMichaelsen, Knight, and Fink (2002) is used in this research as the theoretical framework todefine team-based learning.The purpose of this research review is to demonstrate the relevance of team-based learning inengineering education. In addition the research will serve as a reference to identifymisconceptions and establishing differences between cooperative, collaborative, problem-basedand team-based learning. Further implications for practice and future directions for research areidentified.The research method was a systematic review of several articles, published in the past 5 yearsdescribing the implementation of active learning in engineering education. Team-based learningwas identified in several articles, in some cases with a different title. The research addressed thefollowing questions: What learning outcomes have engineering educators sought to develop withthe implementation of active learning? What misconceptions are identified when using the termsteam-based learning, collaborative learning or cooperative learning? How does problem-basedlearning relates to the use of team-based learning strategies? What literature has been used tosustain the implementation of active learning?The research results are a contribution not only to map recent research done in engineeringeducation instructional innovations, but also in developing a unique theoretical framework inteam-based learning and to clarify possible misconceptions when applying the concept inpractice.Key words: teamwork, team-based learning, creativity, systematic review ReferencesAmerican  Society  for  Engineering  Education  (ASEE).  (2012).  Innovation  with  Impact:   Creating  a  Culture  for  Scholarly  and  Systematic  Innovation  in  Engineering   Education.  Washington,  DC:  Author.  Executive  Office  of  the  President  President’s  Council  of  Advisors  on  Science  and   Technology.  (2012).  REPORT  TO  THE  PRESIDENT  ENGAGE  TO  EXCEL:  PRODUCING   ONE  MILLION  ADDITIONAL  COLLEGE  GRADUATES  WITH  DEGREES  IN  SCIENCE,   TECHNOLOGY,  ENGINEERING,  AND  MATHEMATICS.  President's  Council  of  Advisors   of  Science  and  Technology.  Washington,  DC.    Freeman,  M.  (2012).  To  adopt  or  not  to  adopt  innovation:  A  case  study  of  team-­‐based   learning.  The  International  Journal  of  Management  Education,  10(3),  155-­‐168.  doi:   To  adopt  or  not  to  adopt  innovation:  A  case  study  of  team-­‐based  learning  Gallegos,  P.  J.,  &  Peeters,  M.  (2011).  A  measure  of  teamwork  perceptions  for  team-­‐based   learning.  Currents  in  Pharmacy  Teaching  and  Learning,  3(1),  30-­‐35.    Michaelsen,  L.,  Knight,  A.,  &  Fink,  D.  (2002).  Team-­‐based  learning:  a  transformative  use  of   small  groups:  Greenwood  publishing  group.  Seely,  B.  E.  (1999).  The  Other  Re-­‐engineering  of  Engineering  Education,  1900–1965.   Journal  of  Engineering  Education,  88(3),  285  -­‐  294.  doi:  10.1002/j.2168-­‐ 9830.1999.tb00449.x  Terenzini,  P.  T.,  Cabrera,  A.  F.,  Colbeck,  C.  L.,  Parente,  J.  M.,  &  Bjorklund,  S.  A.  (2001).   Collaborative  Learning  vs.  Lecture/Discussion:  Students’  Reported  Learning  Gains.   Journal  of  Engineering  Education,  90(1),  123–130.  doi:  10.1002/j.2168-­‐ 9830.2001.tb00579.x  

Murzi, H. G. (2014, June), Team-Based Learning Theory Applied to Engineering Education: A Systematic Review of Literature Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23108

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