JUST-IN-TIME TEACHING

Just-in-Time Teaching (JiTT) is an interactive engagement pedagogical strategy, now in its twenty-fourth year. The key idea here is to forge a feedback link between in-class and out-of-class activities via preparatory web assignments. At the heart of the JiTT pedagogy are web-based pre-instruction assignments called warmups. These are short, thought-provoking questions that, when fully discussed, often have complex answers. The students are expected to develop the answer on their own, as far as they can. The work on the assignment continues in the classroom with the student submitted responses playing an important part in the flow of the lesson. The assignments are due just a few hours before class time, giving the instructor enough time to incorporate the insights gained from student submissions into the upcoming lesson. Exactly how the classroom time is spent depends on a variety of issues such as class size, classroom facilities, and student and instructor personalities.

The JiTT effort has been helped by generous support by the National Science Foundation and by promotional help from professional organizations such as AAPT and DLESE and consortia promoting innovative teaching and learning methods, such as Project Kaleidoscope. During the first ten years we had substantial help from Prentice Hall, the publisher of the first JiTT book which they generously make available to educators at no charge.

JiTT borrows eclectically from many learning theories and instructional techniques developed over the past decades. Studies that seek to understand how students construct new knowledge on top of the pre-existing knowledge are particularly relevant to JiTT. So is the body of work that concerns itself with students’ motivational beliefs and with the effects on learning of classroom contextual factors.

Instructors and students become a teaching-learning team engaged in an in-class-out-of-class feedback loop designed to make the learning experience as relevant as possible to a particular class at particular time. This feature presents benefits as well as challenges to the instructors and to the students. JiTT plays well with other interactive engagement pedagogies such as peer instruction, group learning, problem based learning and others.

JiTT is web-based but it is not distance learning. Just-in-Time Teaching takes advantage of the web as an always-on communication channel between students and instructors and students and students. The web technology is critical. JiTT in its present form would not have been possible before the advent of the internet. Once the communication channel is established, the critical issues become what kind of dialog ensues and what is done with the data flowing in the channel. The web assignments prepare the students and the instructor for the subsequent in-class interaction, give the students some control over their learning and enrich the in-class meeting. However, JiTT requires commitment to a daily effort.

Check out some historical and some recent JiTT RESOURCES.