Larry Michealsen talks about TBL

In January of 1979, Larry Michaelsen was a junior faculty member teaching an Organizational Behavior course at the University of Oklahoma. Budget cuts had tripled his class size from 40 to 120 students. He had been advised by senior colleagues to give up on his case-based, Socratic dialogue approach and switch to lecturing . But he was unwilling to let go of working with cases and facilitating deep disciplinary problem-solving discussions. He felt strongly that these discussions really were at the heart of deep and enduring learning. He had an idea. He tried something different. He called it Team-Based Learning. It was an invention that preserved what he so valued in his teaching: engagement, decision-making, deep discussions, and feedback. His method actually made positive use of the larger class size to improve the quality of the discourse.

He realized he needed to overcome two challenges. First, how could he engage large classes in effective problem-solving when the teacher is a scarce resource and class size encourages anonymity rather than accountability? Second, how could he induce his students to come to class prepared? Right from the start, he developed something very close to the structure that Team-Based Learning classrooms still use today.