UT Southwestern Team-Based Learning Center

UT southwest team-based learning center

UT Southwestern Team-Based Learning Center

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center decided to revamp its curriculum to respond to today’s rapid advances in medical science, technology and pedagogy. UTSW developed its new curriculum centered around a formal team-based-learning approach and needed a team-based learning studio to engage the future medical professionals who will shape the landscape in the coming years. Our HDR team designed and delivered a ground-breaking environment, both technologically and pedagogically, providing a state-of-the-art learning space that is equipped for the future.

Accommodating Growth and Flexibility

With one of the largest class sizes in the U.S. at 240 students per cohort, UTSW needed a space designed to accommodate the needs of these students in an engaging way.  UTSW’s project champion and curriculum committee had enthusiastically embraced team-based learning as their preferred pedagogy, but needed a strategy for utilizing the newly vacated library floor that had been made available. Our team worked with the users to understand the levels of need – a team of six, an “academic college” or neighborhood of 40, and the entire class of 240 – and created a space that engages each student intellectually while also allowing for teamwork and learning from and with each other.

The room was strategically organized in a rectangular floor plan to allow for clear lines of sight from each student to the instructor. Each table seats six students, or one “team” with a shared monitor and an extra seat for instructors. The tables are grouped into zones that correspond with the structure of the six “academic colleges,” which meet as a group several afternoons a week as well. Vertically folding Skyfold® walls also allow the room to be divided into three separate classrooms that can meet simultaneously without compromising acoustic quality or comfort. 

Optically, smartly positioned monitors allow for flexible and far-reaching communication from instructors with fixed monitors on team tables and larger screens on the perimeter. The instructor has the flexibility to choose what visuals to share with the class for a tailored educational experience from a central faculty station equipped with cameras and projection capability. 

Acoustically Sound for an Effective Educational Experience

With such a large space and many different ways to use it, special attention was paid to ensuring that every student in the room could effectively listen and communicate despite the large class sizes. With one of our team members coming from a seasoned educational background, our team developed specific criteria for the acoustics in the room and worked with an AV/IT team to execute the vision. Features include:

  • Design criteria for reverberation in the space not to exceed 0.6 seconds.
  • Mechanical system design to minimize HVAC noise and reverberation, including duct socks to dampen unwanted noise 
  • Highly rated acoustic wall and ceiling panels colored according to the six “academic colleges” of the class
  • Soundproofing in the partitioning of the studio using Skyfold® walls that muffle and eliminate noise between partitioned rooms

The project was completed on time on a tight schedule within a year, as HDR utilized careful planning and open communication with the design team, sub consultants and client. This allowed the studio to open in time for faculty training under the new team-based curriculum.

UT southwest team-based learning center
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Dallas, TX
United States

9600 sf (891 m²)