Implementing Team-Based Learning: Findings From a Database Class

Alanah Mitchell, Amy Grace Vaughan
Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice  •  Volume 21  •  2022  •  pp. 001-023

The complexity of today’s organizational databases highlights the importance of hard technical skills as well as soft skills including teamwork, communication, and problem-solving. Therefore, when teaching students about databases it follows that using a team approach would be useful.

Team-based learning (TBL) has been developed and tested as an instructional strategy that leverages learning in small groups in order to achieve increased overall effectiveness. This research studies the impact of utilizing team-based learning strategies in an undergraduate Database Management course in order to determine if the methodology is effective for student learning related to database technology concepts in addition to student preparation for working in database teams.

In this study, a team-based learning strategy is implemented in an undergraduate Database Management course over the course of two semesters. Students were assessed both individually and in teams in order to see if students were able to effectively learn and apply course concepts on their own and in collaboration with their team. Quantitative and qualitative data was collected and analyzed in order to determine if the team approach improved learning effectiveness and allowed for soft skills development. The results from this study are compared to previous semesters when team-based learning was not adopted. Additionally, student perceptions and feedback are captured.

This research contributes to the literature on database education and team-based learning and presents a team-based learning process for faculty looking to adopt this methodology in their database courses. This research contributes by showing how the collaborative assessment aspect of team-based learning can provide a solution for the conceptual and collaborative needs of database education.

Findings related to student learning and perceptions are presented illustrating that team-based learning can lead to improvements in performance and provides a solution for the conceptual and collaborative needs of database education. Specifically, the findings do show that team scores were significantly higher than individual scores when completing class assessments. Student perceptions of both their team members and the team-based learning process were overall positive with a notable difference related to the perception of team preparedness based on gender.

Educational implications highlight the challenges of team-based learning for assessment (e.g., gender differences in perceptions of team preparedness), as well as the benefits (e.g., development of soft skills including teamwork and communication).

This study provides research implications supporting the study of team assessment techniques for learning and engagement in the context of database education.

Faculty looking to develop student skills in relation to database concepts and application as well as in relation to teamwork and communication may find value in this approach, ultimately benefiting students, employers, and society.

Future research may examine the methodology from this study in different contexts as well as explore different strategies for group assignments, room layout, and the impact of an online environment.

team-based learning, collaborative learning, database technology, database management, information technology education
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