Background: Having recently introduced team learning into the preclinical medical curriculum, evidence of the relative impact of this instructional method on in-class learner engagement was sought.
Purpose: To compare patterns of engagement behaviors among learners in class sessions across 3 distinct instructional methods: lecture, problem-based learning (PBL), and team learning.
Methods: Trained observers used the STROBE classroom observation tool to measure learner engagement in 7 lecture, 4 PBL, and 3 team learning classrooms over a 12-month period. Proportions of different types of engagement behaviors were compared using chi-square.
Results: In PBL and team learning, the amount of learner-to-learner engagement was similar and much greater than in lecture, where most engagement was of the learner-to-instructor and self-engagement types. Also, learner-to-instructor engagement appeared greater in team learning than in PBL.
Conclusions: Observed engagement behaviors confirm the potential of team learning to foster engagement similar to PBL, but with greater faculty input.