Letters to the Editor
Drs. Parmelee and Michaelsen point out that our recent article did not mention their team-based learning (TBL) paradigm for instruction of large groups of students.1 We are aware of their work. However, our focus was not on developing a tool for a new instructional method but rather on the primary role of long-term team communication, acculturation, and problem solving.
There certainly have been several examples in the educational literature, as cited by Drs. Parmelee and Michaelsen, that focus on multiple individuals coming together to solve a particular problem or to evaluate a well-defined body of information. We also appreciate the potential value of bringing a large lecture hall filled with students into a learning process as they describe. However, we embarked on a process that was quite different and that much more closely resembled the interactions that medical students will encounter in their later clinical practices.
We also focused on the social dynamics of the team itself rather than the use of a grouping of students for a didactic purpose. Having students work together from the very first day of medical school, take exams together in which their individual grades are based in part on their team's success, and deal with the emotional and physical stress of both classroom and clinical learning is quite different from TBL and, we feel, is a unique approach to medical education.
We applaud Drs. Parmelee and Michaelsen's innovation in medical instruction. We chose, however, to explore a rather different concept in student teamwork.
Stanley Goldfarb, MD
Associate dean for curriculum, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Gail Morrison, MD
Vice dean for education, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Parmelee D, Michaelsen L. Twelve tips for doing effective team-based learning (TBL). Med Teach. 2010;32:118–122.