Engage Students in Team-Based Learning with Virtual Labs

Ginelle Testa

Are you looking for a way to engage students that goes beyond lecturing? With team-based learning (TBL), students can be introduced to concepts at home and then can be actively engaged in learning those concepts in class. Labster virtual labs are used in conjunction with TBL to help students grasp the material and have fun. 

Team-based learning

TBL is an active way of applying small group learning to all-sized classrooms, according to a study at BMC Medical Education. It involves individual and group participation, the chance to apply conceptual knowledge, and immediate feedback. This method supports flipped classroom teaching, which has worked well for many teachers and instructors using Labster.

The study found that: “Students are attracted to the active, collaborative nature of TBL, and teachers are attracted to the integrated approach of TBL in developing students’ professionalism skills, including leadership, communication and teamwork.”

Here is a helpful infographic from BMC’s article about the process of TBL:


Labster works within all these aspects, but we’re going to focus on three in particular:

  • Pre-class preparation

  • Immediate feedback/clarification

  • Clinical problem-solving activities

Pre-class preparation

Many teachers and instructors using Labster say that they use the virtual labs as prep for practical labs. They may use safety labs to ensure students are prepared to be safe in the lab or use a Cell Culture lab to prepare students to grow cells in the school’s lab. 

“Labster offers a lot to the course, and especially in prepping the students to do the cell culture at the beginning - they all find it much better, and they are much more aware of how a lab should work. So if you can find a simulation that works very closely with the lab that you are going to do, it’s a really good way to prep the students.” - Matthew Kirkham, Course Director of the Bachelor in Medicine Program & Deputy Director of Education at the Cellular Molecular Biology center (CMB)

Matthew Kirkham

Immediate feedback/clarification

Feedback is a crucial part of the learning process to ensure students comprehend the material. Labster uses embedded quiz questions during the simulations so that students can see what they know, and teachers can identify gaps they may need to fill during class. The teacher uses the flipped model to see how students did the night before and then uses their answers and grades to inform what they need to reinforce in their teaching the next day. 

“They can test themselves with built-in quizzes. They can make mistakes, they learn from those mistakes, and they receive constant guidance from the virtual assistant.” - Dr. Donald Wlodkowic, Associate Professor of Cell Biology and Toxicology in the School of Science at RMIT University

Clinical problem-solving activities

Labster can be used not only as a preparatory activity but also as an in-class, group problem-solving activity. It can be an excellent way for students to collaborate and have fun while working through a 3D game that enriches their science experience. 

Ms. Rania Barham of Amman Baccalaureate School in Jordan teaches Chemistry using Labster on an interactive board in class to engage students. “They can sometimes do a simulation on their laptop, or sometimes I'll do it as group work where they use the interactive board to go through the simulation.” 

Labster & team-based learning

Labster and TBL go hand-in-hand. Our virtual labs and all their accompanying supplements (quiz questions, lab manuals, etc.) were created to assist you in providing the best learning experience for your students.

Questions to consider:

  • Do you use TBL in your classroom?

  • What are some TBL activities that you use with Labster?

We'd like to hear how you are teaching with science supplements and also share our ideas for using TBL strategies to teach with Labster. Please reach out to us in the Labster Community Campus or Book a Meeting!

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