The 84th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2015)

Body and Brain: Anatomy of team-based learning in a preclinical science course


1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Duke University School of Medicine, 2Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, Duke University, 3Department of Cell Biology, Duke University School of Medicine, 4Department of Neurobiology and Duke Institute for Brain Sciences, Duke University

March 28, 2015 , Archview Ballroom Add to calendar

In 2009, the Duke Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program embarked on a significant pedagogical shift from a traditional lecture-style to a team-based learning (TBL) curriculum. This shift was driven by at least three factors: 1) today’s ‘digital natives’ learn differently from students a generation ago; 2) an increase in competency-based demands, including working in interdisciplinary teams; and 3) recognition that educational activities that train students to function effectively in teams are needed to foster core competencies in clinical practice.

The foundational sciences were at the forefront of the transition to TBL. Body and Brain is a newly developed, team-taught, two-semester course that employs TBL to comprehensively explore the human body and brain. We begin with an emphasis on gross anatomy and relationships among musculoskeletal, neurological, and vascular systems of the human body, with integration of palpation skills. In Body and Brain II we progress to head and neck anatomy and transition into clinical neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of the central nervous system. Strategically targeted content in embryology, histology and pathology are embedded throughout.

To develop and support a culture of TBL, we formulated a set of curricular principles and educational practices, grounded in our core values, which guide the implementation of Body and Brain. Practices that reflect our core principles include learner readiness assurance, teamwork, real-time problem solving, peer assessment, and summative learner assessment. Positive outcomes include diverse and innovative learning experiences, recruitment and application of core knowledge, trust among team members, and enhanced learner engagement, responsibility, professionalism, and satisfaction.