U.M. Richter, R. Berkson

Anglia Ruskin University (UNITED KINGDOM)
Since 2015 Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) has strategically promoted the uptake of innovative active collaborative learning methods, such as Team-Based Learning (TBL). TBL uses a flipped learning approach and a structured process to motivate and support collaborative learning [1]. Originally from the US, TBL is now seeing growing adoption in European Higher Education institutions.

Anglia Learning & Teaching, ARU’s learning and teaching centre, conducted research into the adoption and impact of TBL. We used a mixed methods approach to evaluate students’ and tutors’ experiences of TBL and effects on student performance. We will discuss the benefits, barriers and solutions we identified.

Outcomes from these pilot studies were largely positive, and based on this work, we were awarded a project grant from the HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) Catalyst fund. The Catalyst fund aims to address barriers to student learning and success within a diverse student population. Evidence from the literature suggests that the lowest performing students see the most improvement from adoption of active collaborative learning methods such as TBL [2].

This grant supports working with two partner institutions, Nottingham Trent University and the University of Bradford, to investigate adoption of active collaborative learning at scale. University of Bradford and ARU are both working with TBL, while Nottingham Trent University is using SCALE-UP as their active collaborative learning approach. Most evidence for the positive impact of active collaborative learning is on a small scale, such as innovations in individual modules or courses. This is the first time it has been applied across a whole institution and in all disciplines.

We will present data from the interim mixed methods evaluation. This will include attendance, performance and automatically acquired digital engagement metrics. In future phases of the project, we will use findings from initial surveys to conduct focus groups and interviews with staff and students to capture the detailed impacts of TBL. We are particularly interested in the educational experiences of students from Black and Minority Ethnic students and those from socio-economically deprived backgrounds. Using a typology approach, we also aim to identify which elements of active collaborative learning methodologies are most essential for efficacy.

A key output by the end of the project in 2019 will be development of a research-informed toolkit to support adoption of active collaborative learning at scale in Higher Education institutions.

[1] Michaelsen LK, Knight AB, Fink LD. Team-Based Learning : A Transformative Use of Small Groups. Westport: Greenwood Press; 2002.
[2] Koles PG, Stolfi A, Borges NJ, Nelson S, Parmelee DX. The impact of team-based learning on medical students' academic performance. Academic medicine : journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges 2010 Nov;85(11):1739-1745.