Increase Student Engagement and Persistence with Team-Based Course Design

Welcome to the Vancouver Island Team-Based Learning Institute, August 15-16-17, 2023 at Vancouver Island University!

Early registration is now closed. If you would like to be added to the waitlist in case a participant withdraws, please contact Tine Reimers at

Student engagement and persistence depend on many factors, but a bonding experience with other students in the classroom can make the difference between staying or leaving, and between excelling or merely drifting.

We therefore invite you to reserve your seat now in the August 2023 Course Re-Design Project, Increase Student Engagement and Persistence with Team-Based Course Design. By the end of the 3-day August 15-16-17 Institute, you will be well on your way to implementing a fully redesigned course in the TBL format beginning in the Fall 2023 or Spring 2024 semesters.

Don’t be misled by the name. The Michaelsen-Knight-Fink model of “Team-Based Learning” is NOT just group work. It’s a comprehensive instructional approach designed to foster greater student independence and personal responsibility for learning. It works in any discipline and with any content—from the Humanities to the Sciences to the Trades to Professional programs. One reason for the model’s success is that Team Learning protocols provide the scaffolding that allows faculty members to challenge even beginning students at a higher level. The key is a simple, coherent, set of reliable protocols that ensure an alignment of forces for high-level learning and rich student interaction. For a brief summary of TBL, please visit UBC’s description at

Vancouver Island University students who have been surveyed as part of the Team-Based Learning Project have expressed their response with comments such as these:

  • “This is my favourite (and hardest) course!”’
  • “I’m usually shy talking in front of others, but in this course I get to shape my ideas with my teammates.”
  •  “I love my team!”
  •  “I like that we have to come prepared, and then get to exchange ideas with our team members.”
  •  “This course really challenges me to think.”
  •  “My team helps me understand and see new ideas.”

The Team-Based Learning Course Redesign Program is open to faculty members teaching in any discipline and in any level of the curriculum. Teachers of first and second-year courses, and larger classes in particular, are strongly encouraged to apply. These are the courses in which students are often newer to university learning, are more likely to find themselves isolated, and therefore may benefit from the community that a typical Team-Based course provides.

Past participants are also invited to join again, to use the opportunity to work on the re-design of a new course, using the protocols of Team Learning.

About the Project Facilitators

The TBL Institute will be led by veteran users of TBL, who are also experienced trainers of faculty using the TBL method: Tine Reimers, Bill Roberson and Jessica Gemella of Vancouver Island University. Together, the three of them have coached hundreds of post-secondary instructors in the use of TBL, in North America, South America and Europe.

What will you accomplish in this Course Redesign Project?

You will learn reliable ways to ensure student buy-in and rich classroom interactions. TBL practices are specifically designed to eliminate the most common types of less-than-productive student behaviour, such as failing to prepare, social loafing, reluctance to participate or dominance by strong personalities during discussions.

By the end of the August 15-16-17 workshop, you will have in your possession major components of your redesigned course, for implementation in the Fall 2022 semester. You will also have a toolbox of proven practices, and a template for course outlines and assignments where students consistently take ownership of their learning.

What will happen in the TBL Institute? You will…

  • Experience a live TBL classroom from the students’ perspective. Day One of the Institute stages a simulation of a student experience in a TBL course, so you’ll better understand the “WHY” behind the method
  • Design and develop a course based on the use of TBL protocols and practices
  • Experience, evaluate, and then design TBL-informed activities and assignments
  • Learn tools and techniques for managing a TBL course and facilitating a TBL classroom
  • Re-design a syllabus for a TBL course, including policies and grading schemes that promote student autonomy and responsibility
  • Receive direct feedback on draft TBL teaching plans

Key Dates and Commitments

  • Before August 15: Advance Preparation Time (complete a selection of readings, 3-4 hours)
  • Tuesday, August 15: Day One of TBL Institute, 8:30 AM – 3:30 PM (breakfast and lunch included)
  • Wednesday, August 16: Independent course development work (3-6 hours in a location of your choice, individual coaching with facilitators)
  • Thursday, August 17: Day Three of TBL Institute, 8:30 AM – 3:30 PM (breakfast and lunch included)
  • August 28-September 5 (Before the first week of classes): Meeting with facilitators to get feedback on your new design and first two weeks of lesson plans.
  • Fall semester, 2023: Implement the new design, and meet the benchmarks as outlined below.
  • Week 4 of fall semester: Early Feedback Survey of students, targeting their response to key elements/practices of the TBL method within your course.
  • Week 5-6: Informal classroom visits by one of the facilitators.
  • Week 6-7: Lunch with TBL colleagues, to exchange ideas and experiences
  • December 2023: Write a brief Reflection Essay to document your journey and what you learned from your work in the program.

If you have questions about the application process, or about the program, itself, please contact Tine Reimers at