First, students engage in independent study to prepare for the so-called readiness-assurance-process (RAP) face-to-face session. The clearer the instructions provided by the teacher are (for example with regard to the assigned reading material), the more effective this phase will be. The provision of key questions about a topic, course materials such as worksheets, and background information on relevant authors can be helpful, particularly for bachelor students (cf. Bean 2011). The in-class RAP session begins with an individual readiness test (iRAT). Students receive a multiple choice test that assesses their knowledge of those specific concepts and subjects that they must understand in order to subsequently begin completing the actual team assignments. Sibley and Ostafichuk never tire of stressing that “[t]he [RAP] prepares students for the activities that follow. It is not about testing” (Sibley/Osafichuck 2014, p. 75). Once the students have finished the test, the teams then sit down together and complete the same (iRAT) multiple choice test again as a group.
In the following appeal process, teams have the opportunity to question the accuracy of the officially “correct” answers, as well as argue for the appropriateness of their – supposedly – wrong answers or demonstrate the ambiguity of the questions themselves. The appeal is usually made in writing and is to be turned in the day after the test at the latest. The purpose of the appeal process is to provide students with a reason to revisit that particular subject matter with which they apparently still have comprehension issues.
Finally comes an input phase – the only one in the entire TBL sequence. It should be very brief and only cover those aspects of the test or learning material that most teams have not understood correctly. The tRAT provides indication of which particular areas need to be addressed. The advantage of this mini-lecture is that “The teacher focuses just on what the students don’t know, rather than on what they already know” (Sibley/Ostafichuck 2014, p. 85)
In summary, the RAP is composed of the following elements.
- Self-instruction phase
- Appeal process
It should be noted that each element in this list fulfills a special didactic purpose, and that only when all are carried out in precisely the order described here will each achieve its full potential. Furthermore, these steps only form the basis for the real team-based work.
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