The effect of team-based learning in medical ethics education

Med Teach. 2009 Nov;31(11):1013-7. doi: 10.3109/01421590802590553.


Background: Although now an important aspect of medical education, teaching medical ethics presents challenges, including a perceived lack of value or relevance by students and a dearth of effective teaching methods for faculty. Team-based learning (TBL) was introduced into our medical ethics course to respond to these needs.

Aims: We evaluated the impact of TBL on student engagement and satisfaction and assessed educational achievements.

Method: The medical ethics education using TBL consisted of four 2 h sessions for first-year medical students of Chonnam National University Medical School. The impact of TBL on student engagement and the educational achievements was based on numerical data, including scores from IRAT, GRAT, application exercise and final examination, and the students' perception of medical ethics education using TBL.

Results: Most students perceived TBL activities to be more engaging, effective and enjoyable than conventional didactics. The GRAT scores were significantly higher than the IRAT scores, demonstrating the effect of cooperative learning. In addition, TBL improved student performance, especially that of academically weaker students.

Conclusions: The application of TBL to medical ethics education improved student performance and increased student engagement and satisfaction. The TBL method should be considered for broader application in medical education.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Curriculum
  • Data Collection
  • Educational Measurement
  • Ethics, Medical / education*
  • Group Processes*
  • Humans
  • Problem-Based Learning* / methods
  • Republic of Korea