Fostering Greater Student Independence: VIU’s August Team-Based Learning Course Redesign

On August 20-23, the Centre launched its 6th cohort of Team-Based-Learning Course Re-Designers

Michaelsen’s Team-Based Learning Model is a method that fosters greater student independence and personal responsibility for learning. The key is a simple, coherent set of instructional protocols that, when adopted consistently, ensure that all the forces for engagement are aligned for high-level learning and critical thinking.

We (Bill Roberson, Tine Reimers, Marilyn Funk, and our colleague Jim Sibley from UBC ) were joined by 8 VIU faculty members, and 14 faculty from across Canada and the US for this interactive 3-day experience. During the sessions, faculty experienced TBL “as students”, discussed the advantages and challenges of a true TBL classroom, reframed one of the courses they are about to teach as a TBL course, and provided feedback to one another on initial course designs.

As facilitators, we were impressed with the energy and enthusiasm the participants brought to the table. They entered easily into deep conversations about student motivation, effective inquiry, and ensuring safety and challenge in the classroom. We found them looking forward to changing their own role as teachers as they investigated the possibilities of creating more space for students to develop their own ideas and take responsibility for preparing for class discussions and activities.

VIU participants are now on an instructional ‘voyage of discovery’ as they implement their TBL courses for the first time. The Centre has scheduled follow up opportunities for feedback to each participant and several informal conversations among new TBL practitioners to support them throughout their first implementation. As facilitators, we are always pleased to see the excitement in the faculty build as students engage in deeper thinking in the discipline and faculty see that their hard work to redesign their course is paying off.

We look forward to working with everyone in the months to come!

If you would like to learn more about Team-Based Learning, or are interested in exploring aspects of your own teaching practice with the support of one of our team, please contact us at