Does team-based learning develop essential generic skills in pharmacy students?

M.J. Eksteen


In order to deliver graduates with the necessary qualities, skills and understanding to be employable, universities should do more than only teach disciplinary content. TBL is a small-group-based, active learning teaching strategy which supports the development of essential skills while mastering course content.

In this study, a questionnaire was used to collect biographical data. It consisted of 20 quantitative questions focusing on essential generic skills developed during the implementation of TBL in a fourth-year pharmacy course. Participation was voluntary and ethical approval was received from the faculty’s ethics committee.

The results pointed out that pharmacy students developed essential generic skills such as teamwork, problem-solving, interpersonal skills, time management, communication and adaptability when TBL was used as teaching strategy. TBL does not discriminate against age, gender or ethnicity, which makes it a valuable teaching strategy in South African higher education settings.


Team-based learning; pharmacy education; higher education; South Africa; skills development; employability skills; graduate attributes

Full Text:



Al-Meman, A., Y. M. Al-Worafi and M. S. Saeed. 2014. “Team-based learning as a new learning strategy in pharmacy college, Saudi Arabia: students’ perceptions.” Universal Journal of Pharmacy 3(3):57–65.

Amini, M., S. Jafari, F. Lotfi, L. B. Afkan and Z. Karimian. 2011. “The effect of team-based learning on study skill course of nutrition students of Shiraz University of medical sciences.” Future of Medical Education Journal 1(1):3–7.

Barrie, S. C. 2004. “A research-based approach to generic graduate attributes policy.” Higher Education Research & Development 23(3):261–275.

Berk, R. A. 2014. Top 10 flashpoints in student ratings and the valuation of teaching: what faculty and administrators must know to protect themselves in employment decisions. Virgenia: Stylus Publishing.

Boesen, K. P., R. N. Herrier, D. A. Apgar and R. M. Jackowski. 2009. “Improvisational exercises to improve pharmacy students’ professional communication skills.” American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education 73(2): article 35.

Bridgstock, R. 2009. “The graduate attributes we’ve overlooked: enhancing graduate employability through career management skills.” Higher Education Research & Development 28(1):31–44.

CHE see Council of Higher Education.

Clark, M. C., H. T. Nguyen, C. Bray and R. E. Levine. 2008. “Team-based learning in an undergraduate nursing course.” Journal of Nursing Education 47(3):111–117.

Council of Higher Education. 2013. “Higher education data.” Accessed 27 September 2016.

Delport, C. S. L. and W. J. H. Roestenburg. 2011. “Quantitative data-collection methods: questionnaires, checklists, structured observation and structured interview schedules.” In Research at grass roots: for the social sciences and human service professions, edited by A. S. De Vos, H. Strydom, C. B. Fouché and C. S. L. Delport, 171–205. Pretoria: Van Schaik.

Deslauriers, L., E. Schelew and C. Wieman. 2011. “Improved learning in a large-enrolment physics class.” Science 332(6031):862–864.

Eksteen, M. J. and M. J. Basson. 2015. “Discovering the value of personality types in communication training for pharmacy students.” African Journal of Health Professions Education 7(1):4346.

Elmore, L., J. Skelley and T. Woolley. 2014. “Impact of adapted team-based learning methods on student self-assessment of professionalism, teamwork and skills in a self-care course.” Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning 6:488¬493.

Field, A. Discovering statistics using SPSS. 4th ed. London: Sage Publications.

Flexner, A. 1910. Medical Education in the United States and Canada. Washington: Science and Health Publications, Inc.

Glover, D., S. Law and A. Youngman. 2002. “Graduateness and employability: student perceptions of the personal outcomes of university education.” Research in Post-Compulsory Education 7(3):293–306.

Green, W., S. Hammer and C. Star. 2009. “Facing up to the challenge: why is it so hard to develop graduate attributes?” Higher Education Research & Development 28(1):17–29.

Janssen, H. F., N. P. Skeen, J. Bell and W. Bradshaw. 2008. “Improving critical thinking skills in the medical professional with team-based learning.” In Team-based learning for health professions education, edited by L. K. Michaelsen, D. X. Parmelee, K. K. McMahon and R. E. Levine, 61–73. Virginia: Stylus Publishing.

Marton, E and R. Säljö. 1976. “On qualitative differences in learning: outcome as a function of learners’ conception of task.” The British Journal of Educational Psychology 46:115–127.

Michaelsen, L. K. and M. Sweet. 2008. Fundamental principles and practices of team-based learning. In Team-based learning for health professions education, ed. L. K. Michaelsen, D. X. Parmelee, K. K. McMahon and R. E. Levine, 9–34. Virginia: Stylus Publishing.

National Qualifications Framework. n.a. “What are the critical cross-field outcomes (CCFOs) and how do they relate to learning programmes?” Accessed 28 September 2016.

North-West University. 2015. Blooms revised taxonomy. Potchefstroom: Academic Support Services.

NQF see National Qualifications Framework.

NWU see North-West University.

Parmelee, D. X. 2008. “Team-based learning in health professions education. Why is it a good fit?” In Team-based learning for health professions education, edited by L. K. Michaelsen, D. X. Parmelee, K. K. McMahon and R. E. Levine, 3–8. Virginia: Stylus Publishing.

Pietersen, J. and K. Maree. 2007. “Standardisation of a questionnaire.” In First steps in research, edited by K. Maree, 215¬224. Pretoria: Van Schaik.

Republic of South Africa. 2014. Good Pharmacy Education Standards in terms of section 34 of the Pharmacy Act, Act 53 of 1974. (Notice 153). Pretoria: Government Printers.

Republic of South Africa, Department of Health. 2015. Ethics in Health Research. Pretoria: Department of Health.

Robins, S. P., D. A. DeCenzo and M. Coulter 2015. Fundamentals of Management. Boston: Pearson.

RSA see Republic of South Africa.

RSA DoH see Republic of South Africa, Department of Health.

SAPC see South African Pharmacy Council.

SAQA see South African Qualifications Authority.

South African Pharmacy Council. 2016a. “Statistics for registered persons and organisations.” Accessed 26 October 2016.

South African Pharmacy Council. 2016b. Intern and tutor manual for the pre-registration experience of pharmacist interns. Pretoria: South African Pharmacy Council.

South African Qualifications Authority. 2012. Level descriptors for the South African National Qualifications Framework. Pretoria: SAQA.

SPSS Inc. 2016. IBM SPSS Statistics Version 23, Release 23.0.0, Copyright© IBM Corporation and its licensors. Accessed 10 August 2016.

Thamby, S. A. and P. Subramani. 2014. “Seven-star pharmacist concept by World Health Organization.” Journal of Young Pharmacists 6(2):1–3.

Wills, G. B. 2005. Cognitive interviewing: a tool for improving questionnaire design. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

WHO see World Health Organization.

World Health Organization. 1997. The role of the pharmacist in the health care system. Vancouver: World Health Organization.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

eISSN: 1753-5913

Copyright © 2016 South African Journal of Higher Education

Hosted by Stellenbosch University Library and Information Service since 2016.

Creative Commons License -CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

This journal is hosted by the SU LIS on request of the journal owner/editor. The SU LIS takes no responsibility for the content published within this journal, and disclaim all liability arising out of the use of or inability to use the information contained herein. We assume no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any breaches of agreement with other publishers/hosts.