Some University of South Alabama students and faculty are learning new classroom technique as part of a five-year Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) to improve student preparation for class, classroom learning and the retention of classroom material for use beyond graduation.
Team USA will shift the focus from the traditional “instructional paradigm,” which is based on classroom lectures, to a team-based “learning paradigm” by using peer review and application activities based on course content. The program will use individual and group work as well as immediate feedback to create a framework in which students increasingly hold each other accountable for coming to class prepared and ready to contribute to discussions.
Team USA will show faculty how to use team-based learning in the following ways:
- Improve student learning and success in STEM disciplines, which are science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
- Create higher levels of critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
- Enhance collaboration and communication.
- Promote real-world application of content.
Volunteers from the USA faculty began learning aspects of the program last summer.
Dr. David Johnson, senior vice president for academic affairs, said the pilot program received good results during the Fall Semester, and he added that both faculty and students seem to respond well to it.
Johnson described Team USA as a departure from the stereotypical idea of team-based learning programs where “some students do the work, and everybody gets credit.”
“This program requires that each student must complete work outside the classroom before coming to class,” Johnson said. “Each student must complete the preparation in order for all the students on a team to receive the better grades.”
Additional focus will be on students retaining what they learn for use beyond the classroom.
Team USA was developed under the direction of the Quality Enhancement Plan Advisory Council, which includes 30 members of the faculty, administrators, community members, alumni and students. Dr. Ronald A. Styron Jr. is director of the QEP.
The QEP, a component of the University’s reaccreditation process, provides the opportunity and impetus for an institution to enhance overall quality and effectiveness by focusing on an issue, or issues, the institution views as important to improving student learning. The University’s accreditation agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) will send an on-site visiting committee to observe the Team USA pilot program during a visit to the campus in April.
Styron said the instructional strategy utilized in the project, Team-Based Learning, has been shown in several studies to improve student achievement by fostering a deeper understanding of course content. Team-Based Learning is now being used in more than 80 academic disciplines on more than 200 campuses in the United States and in eight foreign countries.
For more information about Team USA, visit www.southalabama.edu/qep, call (251) 460-7143, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.