Book Reviews

Book by Larry K Michaelson, Michael Sweet, Dean X Parmelee
Review by: Casie Runksmeier
Graduate Student
University of Southern Maine


Team-based learning, or as it is more commonly known, TBL, is not a passing fad. So, it makes sense that educators learn how to facilitate this approach to learning. Michaelson, Sweet, and Parmelee take on and complete this task in their book Team-Based Learning: Small-Group Learning’s Next Big Step. TBL creates a learning environment facilitated by students that supports the acquisition and persistence of knowledge. The authors do a credible job explaining TBL and how to implement it. They discuss the pitfalls many have encountered as they have tried to use this technique. The authors not only submit experiences from their own classrooms but from those of other educators who have implemented this same technique thus giving more validity to the approach. In fact, the strongest parts of the book are the chapters containing “real” classroom excerpts. 

As a student who experienced some aspects of TBL I can appreciate the authors’ suggestions and insights. Their work has helped me understand how small changes to the technique would have increased my understanding of the material and would have drawn me further into the learning process.

We live in a world where volumes of information is at our fingertips and it was nice to see the authors use this medium to offer additional resources. The authors created a Website devoted to TBL that offers further insight into the technique and provides additional resources for the practitioner. Thus, more information on how to apply TBL concepts in a specific setting is only a click away!

Although the book’s size is small, the editors could have shortened it even more. Many of the concepts are repeated on different levels and this may not be necessary e.g., the TBL examples for a professional school could have been applied in a many other environments. Even though direct evidence of this crossover may not be available it can be easily construed without detailed expertise in each arena.

Assimilation of TBL concepts might be hard for some educators because it requires change, but every effort to adjust will reap benefits tenfold. This book is a great guide to a new and improved way to provide learning opportunities for students. 

Even though there seem to be great benefits to educators and their students, I failed to see how to apply TBL to an advising session. Team-Based Learning: Small-Group Learning’s Next Big Step is a great resource for advisors who teach in student-centered classrooms, but its implications for the advising setting are limited. Therefore, it is not a book necessary for every advisor’s shelf. 


Team-Based learning: Small group learning’s next big step. (2008). Book by Larry K Michaelson, Michael Sweet, Dean X Parmelee (Eds.). Review by Casie Runksmeier. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass 104 pp. $29.00, ISBN 978-0-470-46212-6
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