Open Access Open Badges Research article

Team-based learning for psychiatry residents: a mixed methods study

Isabel McMullen1*, Jonathan Cartledge2, Ruth Levine3 and Amy Iversen4

Author Affiliations

1 Liaison Psychiatry, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, Guys Hospital, Weston Street, London SE1 9RT, UK

2 Academic Centre for Medical Education, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK

3 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and Clinical Education, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX 77555, USA

4 Institute of Psychiatry, Weston Education Centre, Cutcombe Road, London SE5 9RJ, UK

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BMC Medical Education 2013, 13:124  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-13-124

Published: 11 September 2013



Team-based learning (TBL) is an effective teaching method for medical students. It improves knowledge acquisition and has benefits regarding learner engagement and teamwork skills. In medical education it is predominately used with undergraduates but has potential benefits for training clinicians. The aims of this study were to examine the impact of TBL in a sample of psychiatrists in terms of classroom engagement, attitudes towards teamwork, learner views and experiences of TBL.


Forty-four psychiatry residents participated in an Addictions Psychiatry TBL module. Mixed-methods were used for evaluation. Self-rated measures of classroom engagement (Classroom Engagement Survey, CES) were compared with conventional lectures, and attitudes regarding the value of teams (Value of Teams Scale, VTS) were compared before and after the module. Independent t-tests were used to compare ‘lecture’ CES scores with TBL CES scores and pre and post scores for the VTS. Feedback questionnaires were completed. Interviews were conducted with a subset of residents and transcripts analysed using thematic analysis.


Twenty-eight residents completed post-course measures (response rate 63.6%). Seven participants volunteered for qualitative interviews–one from each team. There was a significant difference in the mean CES score lectures compared to TBL (p < 0.001) but no difference was found in mean VTS score pre and post for either subscale (p = 0.519; p = 0.809). All items on the feedback questionnaire were positively rated except two regarding session preparation. The qualitative analysis generated seven themes under four domains: ‘Learning in teams’, ‘Impact on the individual learner’, ‘Relationship with the teacher’ and ‘Efficiency and effectiveness of the learning process’.


In this group of residents, TBL significantly improved learner-rated classroom engagement and seemed to promote interactivity between learners. TBL was generally well-received, although required learners to prepare for class which was difficult for some. TBL did not change these clinicians’ views about teamwork.

Instructional methods; Team-based learning; Continuing medical education; Residents; Psychiatry