Singapore Institute of Technology
Applied Learning Conference-Team Based Learning OT-27Jan2020 (without video for irr).pdf (1.78 MB)

Occupational Therapy Students’ Experience of Team Based Learning: a Multi-year Study.

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conference contribution
posted on 2022-12-21, 04:36 authored by Bhing Leet TanBhing Leet Tan, I-Ling YehI-Ling Yeh, Phyllis Liang


Medical and health sciences disciplines have adopted team-based learning as part of their education pedagogy over the past years, with studies showing increased classroom participation and learner satisfaction  (Clark, Nguyen, Bray, & Levine, 2008; Koles, Stolfi, Borges, Nelson, & Parmelee, 2010; Sisk, 2011). However, there is a lack of mixed-methods studies that explore the learning experience of occupational therapy students across their undergraduate curriculum.


At SIT BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy programme, students undertake three clinical modules using team-based learning in Year Two and  Year Three. Two cohorts of students from Academic Year (AY) 2016 and 2017 completed the Team Based Learning Student Assessment Instrument (TBL-SAI) at the end of the first (baseline) and third module.  In addition, they also completed a semi-structured survey which sought to obtain information on students’ learning experience. 

The objectives of this study were: 

  1. To explore students’ perception and experience of team based learning.
  2. To capture changes in student experiences in team based learning, as they progressed through the three team-based learning clinical modules. 
  3. To explore relationships between students’ perception of team-based learning and their academic performance. 

Quantitative data analysis was carried out by IBM SPSS Statistics Version 25 (IBM-Corp, 2017) while NVivo 12 Pro (QSR International Pte Ltd, 2018) was used to analyse the qualitative data.  


128 occupational therapy students from both cohorts participated in this study. At baseline, they had higher than neutral Accountability sub-scale score (mean= 31.90, SD=3.37), higher than neutral Preference for Team based Learning sub-scale score (mean=50.94, SD=6.26) and higher than neutral Student Satisfaction sub-scale score (mean=32.84, SD=5.08). Among the AY2017 cohort (n=71) at baseline, Spearman’s rho showed positive moderate association between Accountability sub-scale score and academic results (r = 0.32, p = 0.00).  At the end of the third module, Paired T-test showed that the AY2016 cohort had significant reduction in TBL-SAI composite score (t(55)=3.02, p < 0.001). However, the final composite score was still higher than neutral (mean= 110.68, SD=15.90). Changes in AY2017 cohort’s TBL-SAI score will be available in December 2019. From the qualitative data analysis, students found team-based learning more engaging and interactive than traditional lectures. They valued the opportunity to learn from one other through seeking clarification from their peers and hearing different perspectives during group discussions. Some felt they ‘think deeper’ by having to justify their choice of answers. On the other hand, group discussions did not help learning when the group was disorganised and when there was a lack of contribution from group members. Students sometimes also found the content knowledge overwhelming and preparation time insufficient to adequately prepare for discussion. While most recognised the value of team-based learning and the variety of learning modes, students suggested additional traditional lectures to efficiently ‘get the information’. AY16 cohort reported similar concepts at the end of the third module. 


Occupational therapy students’ experiences in the areas of accountability, satisfaction and preference for team-based learning were generally positive. Accountability appeared to be related to academic results. Students valued the opportunity to ‘think deeper’ and learn from peers, when there was sufficient time for preparation. However, they also wished to have additional lectures to obtain information efficiently. 


  • Clark, M. C., Nguyen, H. T., Bray, C., & Levine, R. E. (2008). Team-based learning in an undergraduate nursing course. Journal of Nursing Education, 47(3), 111–117.
  • Koles, P. G., Stolfi, A., Borges, N. J., Nelson, S., & Parmelee, D. X. (2010). The Impact of Team-Based Learning on Medical Students’ Academic Performance. Academic Medicine, 85(11), 1739–1745.


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Applied Learning Conference, 30-31 January 2020, Singapore.

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