Team cohesiveness, team size and team performance in team-based learning teams

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The purpose of this study was to explore the relationships among variables associated with teams in team-based learning (TBL) settings and team outcomes.


We administered the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) Psychiatry Subject Test first to individuals and then to teams of Year three students at four medical schools that used TBL in their psychiatry core clerkships. Team cohesion was analysed using the Team Performance Scale (TPS). Bivariate correlation and linear regression analysis were used to analyse the relationships among team-level variables (mean individual TPS scores for each team, mean individual NBME scores of teams, team size, rotation and gender make-up) and team NBME test scores. A hierarchical linear model was used to test the effects of individual TPS and individual NBME test scores within each team, as well as the effects of the team-level variables of team size, team rotation and gender on team NBME test scores. Individual NBME test and TPS scores were nested within teams and treated as subsampling units.


Individual NBME test scores and individual TPS scores were positively and statistically significantly (p < 0.01) associated with team NBME test scores, when team rotation, team size and gender make-up were controlled for. Higher team NBME test scores were associated with teams rotating later in the year and larger teams (p < 0.01). Gender make-up was not significantly associated.


The results of an NBME Psychiatry Subject Test administered to TBL teams at four medical schools suggest that larger teams on later rotations score higher on a team NBME test. Individual NBME test scores and team cohesion were positively and significantly associated with team NBME test scores. These results suggest the need for additional studies focusing on team outcomes, team cohesion, team size, rotation and other factors as they relate to the effective and efficient performance of TBL teams in health science education.

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