Is it time for Team-Based Learning in EAP?

Joy Robbins and Beck McCarter


The problem of scaling up good, pedagogically sound EAP provision to teach increasing numbers of students is a growing difficulty for the sector, particularly for university pre-sessional programmes where cohorts can be quite large. This article suggests that attempting to continue with traditional-sized EAP classes or scaling up with textbooks and pre-made online learning modules are both deeply unpreferable approaches. Instead, we propose using a teaching approach well-known in higher education, though not yet common in EAP, called Team-Based Learning (TBL). TBL divides a cohort of any size into small teams and then follows a strict, subject-agnostic structure that facilitates highly communicative, feedback-rich learning within and across those teams. Handily for time-pressed summer pre-sessional concerns, formative and summative assessment is also an integrated part of the TBL structure. This paper reviews the research on TBL through an EAP lens, and then explains the structure and theory of TBL and how it might be applied in an EAP pre-sessional context.