Identifying keys to success in innovative teaching: Student engagement and instructional practices as predictors of student learning in a course using a team-based learning approach


  • Rosa M. Alvarez-Bell East Carolina University
  • Derrick Wirtz University of British Columbia Okanagan
  • Hui Bian East Carolina University



Student Engagement, Student Learning, Team-Based Learning, General Chemistry, Predictors of Learning Outcomes


When implementing innovative teaching techniques, instructors often seek to gauge the success of their methods. Proposing one approach to assessing classroom innovation, this study examines the ability of students’ ratings of engagement and instructional practices to predict their learning in a cooperative (team-based) framework. After identifying the factor structures underlying measures of student engagement and instructional practices, these factors were used as predictors of self-reported student learning in a general chemistry course delivered using a team-based learning approach. Exploratory factor analyses showed a four-factor structure of engagement: teamwork involvement, investment in the learning process, feelings about team-based learning, level of academic challenge; and a three-factor structure of instructional practices: instructional guidance, fostering self-directed learning skills, and cognitive level. Multiple linear regression revealed that feelings about team-based learning and perceptions of instructional guidance had significant effects on learning, beyond other predictors, while controlling gender, GPA, class level, number of credit hours, whether students began college at their current institution, expected highest level of education, racial or ethnic identification, and parental level of education. These results yield insight into student perceptions about team-based learning, and how to measure learning in a team-based learning framework, with implications for how to evaluate innovative instructional methods.


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Author Biographies

Rosa M. Alvarez-Bell, East Carolina University

Rosa Alvarez-Bell is a Teaching Assistant Professor in Chemistry and the Coordinator of the General Chemistry Laboratories at East Carolina University (Greenville, NC, USA).

Derrick Wirtz, University of British Columbia Okanagan

Derrick Wirtz is a Senior Instructor in Psychology and the Director of the Psychological Science Ph.D. Program at the University of British Columbia (Kelowna, BC, Canada).

Hui Bian, East Carolina University

Hui Bian is a Research and Statistics Consultant in the Office for Faculty Excellence at East Carolina University
(Greenville, NC, USA).


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How to Cite

Alvarez-Bell, Rosa M., Derrick Wirtz, and Hui Bian. 2017. “Identifying Keys to Success in Innovative Teaching: Student Engagement and Instructional Practices As Predictors of Student Learning in a Course Using a Team-Based Learning Approach”. Teaching and Learning Inquiry 5 (2):128-46.