Infusing Teamwork in Cased-based/Problem-based Learning

Drawing upon my last post which provides clarity of mindset on the difference(s) between Case-based learning (CBL) and Problem-based learning (PBL), this post is meant to expand upon the teamwork tenet of CBL. In the definition provided by the Center for Teaching and Learning at Queen’s University, CBL represents a teaching method that “is learner-centered with intense interaction between participants as they build their knowledge and work together as a group to examine the case” of a real-life example. The definition manifests the reality of building real-world expertise in students through critical-thinking and self-direction in situations of PBL. Additionally, working together demonstrates that, approaching CBL/PBL should also lend credence to the basics of teamwork for successful outcomes.

Teamwork has seemly become critical to success in many professions. It has been approached from several dimensions due to its relevance to real-life scenarios as in the job place based on its many attributes. Salas, Sims, and Burke (2005) described the core components of teamwork as team leadership, mutual performance monitoring, backup behavior, adaptability, and team orientation. Practitioners should realize that enabling group teams to be successful at coming up with solutions around real-life cases/problems relies heavily on how well the group functions together. Teamwork fills in said gap and provides the way forward for the intense interaction between participants as they build their knowledge and work together as required for CBL/PBL. Thus, it is essential that learning outcomes and objectives for courses using CBL/PBL be structured to develop the skills of teamwork. Meanwhile, I recommend that practitioners focus on adapting to teamwork attributes that might be appropriate for their context; given that success of teamwork also hinges upon support mechanisms such as shared mental modes, closed-loop communication, and mutual trust (Salas, Sims, & Burke, 2005).



3 thoughts on “Infusing Teamwork in Cased-based/Problem-based Learning

  • September 24, 2019 at 12:16 pm

    I really have mixed feelings about teamwork, because of bad experiences that I had in group projects. Most of the times I had to do more work which I can understand in a way if someone needs support, but when this person has the attitude that she/he has done hers/his part, or that it is my responsibility to “save” the project, this can drive my crazy. On the other hand, I have been to groups where the collaboration was absolutely amazing. We all put our best efforts to help each other and the result was a big success. With that being said, I don’t believe that we have to stuck with people who are trying to take advantage of people that they are doing all the work. The only solution that I have thought so far is the existence of a peer evaluating system and I hope all professors start using it.

  • September 25, 2019 at 10:38 am

    The role of instructors in active learning instructional methods, generally, and problem-based learning units, specifically, is related to ideal teaming. Prince and Felder (2006) advised instructors to “familiarize themselves with proven facilitation techniques,” as well as “to use scaffolding, providing a fairly high level of guidance to students who are new to PBL and gradually withdrawing it as the students gain more experience with the approach” (p. 130). Social-historical theorist L. S. Vygotsky explained that a student learns best when presented with a task that he or she can nearly complete on his or her own, thereby requiring attenuated guidance from the instructor or collaboration with other students (Crain, 2005; Johri & Olds, 2011; Newstetter & Svinicki, 2014). If instructors can facilitate model collaborative learning, then students can “learn to think logically … partly by learning to consider two or more perspectives in their dealings with others. So interactions should be encouraged, and the most beneficial ones are those … with peers” (Crain, 2005, p. 139).

  • September 25, 2019 at 3:17 pm

    Thanks for sharing!
    Your post touch on a very important advantage of implementing case-based learning and problem-based learning, which is promoting the concept of the teamwork. I think that regardless of how successful the experience of implementing these learning approaches is, promoting the teamwork concept would be at least achieved, which is a great accomplishment by itself. I would recommend all teacher to go ahead and start to integrate CBL and PBL into their curricula.

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