Effectiveness of a Team-Based Learning exercise in the learning outcomes of a medical pharmacology course: insight from struggling students

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We have previously reported that multiple Team-Based Learning (TBL™) exercises in a 4-week pre-clinical medical school course improved final exam performance and significantly reduced the number of course failures. Here, we conducted a long-term study, with eight cohorts of first-year medical students, to determine whether the implementation of a single TBL individual readiness assessment test (iRAT) exercise in a 4-week medical school pharmacology course produces similar effects in overall course performance. We implemented a single TBL iRAT exercise that covered the subjects addressed during one week of the medical pharmacology course, with the four most recent cohorts of students matriculating at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (n = 403). The first four cohorts matriculating at CMSRU did not participate in the TBL exercises (n = 266). Correlation of individual student TBL iRAT and final examination scores in the medical pharmacology course was compared to a second, unrelated first-year course (physiology) to control for variation in student performance between cohorts. We found that there was a significant moderate correlation between final examination and TBL iRAT scores (r = 0.49, p < 0.01, n = 403). Interestingly this moderate correlation was seen in students performing in the lower 25th percentile on the course final examination (r = 0.41, p < 0.01, n = 101) and negligible in students performing in the upper 25th percentile (r = 0.11, n = 101, p > 0.05). Implementation of the single TBL exercise also significantly reduced variance or range of student final examination performance compared to the group of the first four cohorts. These results suggest that implementation of a single TBL exercise, which covers only one week of content delivered in a 1-month medical pharmacology course, benefits first-year medical students by reducing the disparity in knowledge acquisition among them and providing a means to identify students who may struggle with course content.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1941-1948
Number of pages8
JournalNaunyn-Schmiedeberg's Archives of Pharmacology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology


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