gms | German Medical Science

13. Grazer Konferenz – Teaching Medicine – an Interprofessional Agenda

24. - 26.09.2009, Innsbruck, Österreich

Benefits of team-based learning for students in a traditional medical curriculum


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  • corresponding author Hubert Wiener - Medical University of Vienna, Core Unit for Medical Eudcation, Vienna, Austria
  • author Herbert Plass - Medical University of Vienna, Core Unit for Medical Eudcation, Vienna, Austria
  • author Richard März - Medical University of Vienna, Core Unit for Medical Eudcation, Vienna, Austria

13. Grazer Konferenz - Qualität der Lehre: Teaching Medicine – an Interprofessional Agenda. Innsbruck, Österreich, 24.-26.09.2009. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2009. Doc09grako24

doi: 10.3205/09grako24, urn:nbn:de:0183-09grako241

Published: December 14, 2009

© 2009 Wiener et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.


Purpose: Having established team-based learning (TBL) in the new curriculum at the Medical University of Vienna [1] the present study examines the benefits of TBL in the traditional medical curriculum. These students are quite a bit older and have a different educational background. Unlike the new medical curriculum, the traditional curriculum (which is only offered to students who started their studies in this curriculum before 2002) is lecture based and lacks a significant small group learning component.

Methods: Students in the 2nd preclinical stage of the traditional curriculum were offered an elective pharmacology review course in an intensive TBL format with six 2-hour sessions over a 3-day period. Expectations of students to TBL were evaluated with a pre-course open-ended survey and compared with responses to a program-evaluation questionnaire at the end of the course.

Results: 72 students enrolled in the TBL course. About 80% of the students responding in the pre-course survey (n = 65, 66% female) were older than 25 years and indicated that they are half-time or fully employed. The most frequently mentioned expectation in TBL refered to a positive impact on knowledge acquisition (54%) while aspects addressing learning attitudes (22%) and motivation (10%) were cited to a much lesser extent. Only 33 students (46%) qualified for a certificate of attendance, which compares with 57% for a similar course in the new curriculum. The response rate to the program-evaluation questionnaire at the end of the course was 53% (n = 38). Contrasting their expectations, students felt highly motivated and engaged with TBL activities. Using a 6-point rating scale, the item with the greatest mean score was “TBL is an effective motivating learning strategy” (5.30.7), closely followed by “TBL challenged me to give my best” (5.11.1), and “TBL had a positive impact on my learning attitudes” (5.01.1). In terms of knowledge acquisition the item with the largest mean score was “TBL helps to assess present knowledge” (5.00.9). The response to the concluding statement, “Overall, I am very satisfied with the TBL approach” (5.60.6), shows that students obviously appreciated TBL in the intensive course format.

Conclusions: Educationally most important is the conclusion that TBL had a highly positive impact on motivation and learning attitudes in students in a traditional medical curriculum lacking any experience in active small group learning.


Wiener H, Plass H, März R. Team-based learning in intensive course format for first-year medical students. Croat Med J. 2009;50(1):69-76. DOI:10.3325/cmj.2009.50.69 External link