Aim: To examine the impact of team-based learning (TBL) on educational outcomes in the first year of the curriculum of the Medical University of Vienna.
Methods: TBL was first offered to students as a single-group exercise to illustrate the value and dynamics of a learning team. In a second step, TBL was provided in an intensive course format with six 2-hour sessions over a 3-day period as an elective course covering the material of a critical teaching block. Students' responses to the program and the impact on the final exam were analyzed.
Results: Out of 1417 eligible students, 386 participated in 8 parallel courses offered in the TBL block. The reaction of students to TBL was highly positive. Using the final exam as an outcome measure, 220 students who completed the intensive courses had a 25.3% higher score (non-TBL vs TBL students: 22+/-9 vs 28+/-9 points) in the TBL block. They also had a 16.5% higher score (non-TBL vs TBL students: 94+/-29 vs 109+/-26 points) in the remaining 5 non-TBL blocks of the year.
Conclusions: TBL in an intensive course format seems to be especially attractive for the best students of the year, making them even more successful in the key exam. Even the students who usually learned alone highly appreciated learning in teams, thereby developing the understanding and skills needed to work productively in task-groups.