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Int J Med Educ. 2017 Feb 8;8:39-44. doi: 10.5116/ijme.5895.0eea.

Does team-based learning improve performance in an infectious diseases course in a preclinical curriculum?

Author information

  • 1Department of Biomedical Sciences, Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, Camden, NJ, USA.
  • 2Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ, USA.
  • 3Office of Medical Education, Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, Camden, NJ, USA.



To examine whether introduction of Team-based Learning (TBL) improves student learning resulting in improved performance on final examination questions and decreased failures in an infectious diseases course.


To improve mastery of course content, we designed an intervention, which provided weekly TBL exercises in study years 2 and 3 to review concepts presented during didactic lectures and laboratory exercises.  The remaining course structure and content was essentially unchanged. All students taking the course (n=50 in year 1, n=64 in year 2, and n=72 in year 3) participated in this study. Student final examination performance and performance on individual final examination questions were collected and analyzed for changes in response to the study intervention.


Addition of weekly TBL exercises improved student performance on the course final examination as demonstrated by a statistically significant increase in the distribution of correct answer percentages for questions in common between the final examinations in years 1 and 2 and between years 1 and 3 (t(99) = 3.1454, p<0.05 and t(99) = 4.1268, p<0.01, respectively; Student-Newman-Keuls).  There was no statistical difference (t(97) = 0.9814, p> 0.05; Student-Newman-Keuls) in the distribution of correct answer percentages between years two and three. There was also a decrease in final examination failures in years two and three.


The results suggest that TBL could be used to improve mastery and retention of course content in a preclinical infectious diseases course. Weekly exercises allow students to identify and ameliorate weaknesses in understanding and make adjustments early in the course.


learning improvement; learning perception; medical students; team-based learning

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