Regis University Pharmacy School Unique Team-Based Learning Model Goes International

Donnie VeaseySeptember 28, 2012

Regis University’s School of Pharmacy unique Team-Based Learning (TBL) model is going international, thanks to an invitation from the University of Bradford School of Pharmacy in England. Michael Nelson, chair of Pharmaceutical Sciences Department in the Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professions (RHCHP), and Rebecca Moote, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice in RHCHP, recently traveled to their Great Britain-based pharmacy counterpart to conduct workshops, provide consultations and share their knowledge about how TBL is successfully applied at Regis University. Moote and Nelson spent two days in September delivering presentations, discussing research, placements and learning exchanges, foundation studies, consulting skills, explaining concepts and answering questions about their TBL model. Their visit to the United Kingdom came on the heels of an April visit to Denver by representatives from the University of Bradford School of Pharmacy. TBL is an alternative to lecture-based learning. At the Regis University RHCHP School of Pharmacy, students spend their classroom time applying course material rather than simply acquiring it. In a TBL course, classroom learning occurs in teams of 5 to 7 students. Teams are formed such that each group contains a variety of students in terms of skills and backgrounds. Students begin each TBL unit by studying assigned class material (readings, website tutorials, video demonstrations, etc.) prior to class. “They were looking for a new and innovative teaching model to increase applicant interest in light of recent tuition cost increases,” said Moote, while discussing why the University of Bradford pharmacy school was so interested in the Regis TBL model. Nelson added that “the United Kingdom has recently shifted to students paying for their college education rather than receiving significant state subsidization for higher education.” After a lengthy Saturday flight to Manchester Airport in England and a Sunday of pleasantries including a visit to Haworth- Bronte Country with their host Simon Tweddell and family, Moote and Nelson dived into two activity-filled days designed to provide the Bradford School of Pharmacy faculty and administrators the full breadth and scope of the Regis University TBL model. During consultation meetings, Moote and Nelson met with pharmacy practice faculty, pharmaceutical sciences faculty, student affairs faculty, experiential placement faculty, administrative support staff and curriculum program leaders, with discussions centered on three areas: providing advice about TBL curriculum delivery to faculty, reviewing TBL materials developed by faculty, and exploring potential scholarship collaboration and student and faculty exchange opportunities. During the workshops, Moote and Nelson presented multiple exercises designed to provide faculty with best practices regarding facilitating TBL learning in the classroom, using application exercises and TBL classroom management strategies. The presentations employed the TBL format where teams of faculty worked to simultaneously solve the same problem. Moote and Nelson also provided information to their British counterparts why RHCHP School of Pharmacy faculty selected the TBL approach, noting that TBL provided more benefits and solved more learning problems than any other single instructional strategy. The RHCHP School of Pharmacy TBL model provides what school officials call an exciting learning environment that fosters critical thinking and problem solving skills, develops teamwork skills in students that are critical for successful careers in pharmacy practice, and gives students a competitive edge over other pharmacy students in an increasingly team‐oriented healthcare system. Moote, who earned a doctor of pharmacy from the University of Texas, and Nelson, who earned a doctor of philosophy from the University of Minnesota, noted that published studies have demonstrated that students learn at least as much, and probably more, content and concepts in TBL courses as they do in traditional lecture-based learning courses, adding that students learn how to apply course content to real world situations, fostering development of an effective team member in the healthcare field. The visit to the University of Bradford also brought about increased insight and appreciation that the Regis pharmacy duo gained from their British pharmacy counterparts. “The complexity of TBL with multiple sessions/sections, something which we don’t do, and insight into another school’s perspective in starting TBL,” were the two areas identified by Moote and Nelson. At the conclusion of the journey and upon reflection, Moote said that “the invitation to consult with and provide a workshop to the University Bradford pharmacy faculty illustrates the international recognition of the implementation of TBL to deliver an integrated Doctor of Pharmacy curriculum at the Regis University School of Pharmacy,” said Moote. “What made the entire visit a success was ’a mutual respect for each other and teaching, and a genuine enthusiasm for TBL.’” (Donnie Veasey is the Director of Media Relations in the University Relations’ Department of Communications and Design.)