Starting Point: Teaching and Learning Economics > Team-Based Learning

Team-Based Learning

Module developed by Scott Simkins, Department of Economics, North Carolina A&T State University, with assistance from Mark Maier, Glendale Community College, and Phil Ruder, Pacific University

What is Team-Based Learning (TBL)?

Team-based learning (TBL) is a structured, evidence-based whole-course framework for improving student learning through the systematic and intentional use of student teams, who interact regularly in structured learning activities. TBL courses are designed around a five-stage "readiness assurance" process, followed by a series of classroom-based "application exercises" that require teams to solve, discuss, and report out solutions to relevant, significant problems.

Why use Team-Based Learning?

Teachers in a variety of disciplines have adopted the TBL approach, demonstrating increased student learning and engagement, especially for students from underrepresented groups, including minorities, women, and first-generation college students. TBL, with its structured group framework and emphasis on inquiry-based application of disciplinary concepts, is particularly well-suited to improving student learning in economics. TBL provides strong incentives for students to prepare prior to class, collaboratively apply economic concepts to analyze important economic issues during class using hands-on activities, intentionally reflect on their learning following these activities, and work effectively in groups.

How to use Team-Based Learning

Team-Based Learning begins with meaningful student learning goals for your course. A series of TBL modules are then developed around those goals - ultimately requiring teams to apply disciplinary concepts to make decisions about significant economic problems. Each TBL module contains two components: (1) the Readiness Assurance Process (RAP), which ensures that students have a basic understanding of key economic concepts for that module, and (2) Application Activities (AEs), which require student teams to apply those concepts in new and meaningful ways. TBL is a student-centered teaching practice, with a minimum of lecturing.


The Application Exercises page includes a collection of ready-to-use TBL Application Exercises, including teaching notes on how to best use the exercise in your own class. Use them as-is or adapt as needed for your own course.

References and Resources

The TBL References and Resources page includes a large collection of valuable TBL-related information, including web- and print-based resources illustrating TBL's development, use and effectiveness across disciplines.

National Science Foundation (NSF) Support for Team-Based Learning

NSF logo
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has supported the development and diffusion of Team-Based Learning in economics through the following grant: (DUE 1712295).

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