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Transforming the traditional classroom with team learning [チーム学習モデルによる伝統的講義スタイルの変遷]

The teacher’s shifting leadership role in collaborative learning environments [相互協働学習 環境下 における講師 の リーダーシップ の 役割変遷]
Brent Duncan conducts a workshop on "Transforming the traditional classroom with team-based learning" to Hachinohe University faculty

Despite living in a society that holds cooperation as a core value, students in the Japanese higher education system typically study in a rigid lecture-test environment that neither supports nor condones collaboration in the classroom. I addressed this cultural cognitive dissonance during a lecture to Hachinohe University faculty about how to use group-learning methods to invigorate student development in traditional higher education.


Key challenges to tapping the power of group dynamics to enhance student development are

  1. teaching students who are conditioned for test preparation to develop interdependent learning skills with their peers, and
  2. training traditional authoritarian lecturers to develop the flexible leadership skills for managing dynamic learning environments.


Students tend to be adaptable. However, static traditional educational systems tend to resist any kind of change, even when a turbulent environment requires that they adapt or die.


Hachinohe University professors break into groups to discuss the challenges and opportunities of team-based learning in the traditional universityIn "Transforming the traditional classroom with team-based learning," I summarize the foundations of group learning practices in university settings around the world. The foundations of group learning help to demonstrate the transformative potential of team-learning for helping college students to shift from

  1. being dependent learners in a traditional classroom to
  2. being interdependent learners in a team-based learning environment.

Research from social neuroscience provides support for the transformative potential of group-learning methods by offering a perspective of humans as psycho-social organisms, with brains that have evolved as a direct result of dynamic interplay among biological, psychological, and social influences--important developmental dimensions for group-learning practices.

Next, I discuss various group-learning models to explain the shifting leadership role that teachers play as they apply different techniques in the classroom. Differentiating team-based learning from other group-learning methods lays a foundation for understanding team-based learning as an intense use of group learning through which the teacher becomes a coach. As a coach, the teacher works interdependently with the students to foster individual and group success by organizing, developing, and coordinating the skills of students to accomplish individual and group goals.

Finally, I offer practical team-based learning models that teachers can use to enhance student and classroom effectiveness through interdependence among teacher and students.


The below links provide the English and Japanese language resources from the lecture to Hachinohe University faculty on July 13, 2011. The resources also include the results of a workshop during which Hachinohe faculty explored the challenges and opportunities of group learning methods in traditional college classrooms.


(C) 2017 by Brent Duncan, PhD. All rights reserved.