Comments received by phone
Mark Maier @ Glendale Community College // Received March 27, 2006
This is an ambitious Research Agenda (RA). A big question that is not addressed in the draft RA is, how do we employ JiTT combined with other pedagogies such as Peer Instruction, Classroom Response Systems (Classroom Polling) or Content Rich Problem Solving? A variation on this theme is the issue of simply documenting the menagerie of different ways JiTT is actually used in the classroom. How are student JiTT submissions integrated into subsequent class lectures? How are JiTT submissions used in small group work during subsequent classes? In addition, we need a taxonomy of JiTT and the many variations on the theme that have come to the fore in the past ten years.
Jim Benedict @ James Madison University // Received March 27, 2006
There are a lot of interesting questions in this Research Agenda (RA). JiTT is mutating and has become many things to many people—it is applied in many different ways today. Thus, an important question that needs investigation is, “What is the essence of JiTT?”. What are the primary determinants to its success (its positive influence on the learning process) and what is the hierarchy of importance among those primary determinants? For example if we consider: the content and form of the Warm-ups, the time and depth spent on pre-class preparation by students, or the review of the Warm-up responses by instructors and their use of those responses in an active classroom learning environment—among these variables, which are the most powerful in determining student learning? Anecdotally, this writer and others is finding that the class preparation feature seems to be the dominant variable in student learning, regardless of instructor use or even review of the Warm-up responses before class. A lot of classes are being structured with JiTT Warm-ups combined with the classic lecture, and even this works better with the JiTT pedagogy overlay. Other possible questions of note follow. As faculty merge JiTT with other pedagogies, how effective are these blended techniques? Is there an optimum time scale for delivering Warm-ups, e.g. daily, weekly or otherwise? Are there discipline specific variations on the classic JiTT theme? This writer is interested in designing experiments that are conducted over very short time scales, such as a one hour (50 minute) that specifically contrasts a JiTT learning experience with a non-JiTT control group. Such an arrangement can effectively eliminate the influence of so many other variables and “noise” that influence learning over the course a longer term experiment such as a term or academic year.
Rick Goedde @ St. Olaf College // 23 April 2006
Prof. Goedde has been using JiTT for three years, having deployed it in Accounting, Investments and Management courses. He has presented workshops at St. Olaf, instructing both new and seasoned faculty on the principles and practice of JiTT. In addition, he has collected survey data from students on their impressions of JiTT and its deployment and effectiveness. These anecdotal data having been presented as a poster session at a recent regional conference on SOTL at liberal arts colleges held at St. Olaf and Carleton Colleges in Northfield, MN.
In terms of specific comments on the JiTT Research Agenda, he found the agenda to be ambitious in its scope, noting that he did not see any glaring omissions in the document. He found the larger categories of questions to be appropriate, noting that the questions on Theory Development (Section I), would be the most difficult to attack successfully. He noted in particular that question 5 of Section II (JiTT Implementation Issues) grabbed his attention:
5) How much time is required of the instructor and student in a well designed JiTT course? Do the learning gains justify the cost?
How much “sweat equity” is required of faculty above and beyond basic course/lesson preparation? He advocates a “phased approach” to incorporating JiTT into a course. One could start with as few as three JiTT assignments early in the course to see if both students and instructor find it useful and worth the time. More JiTT assignments could be added to this class, or a future offering of the course. Some faculty see JiTT as simply “more work”, without the benefit of appreciating the tremendous gains that can follow its use, not only in student learning, but in affective aspects of the learning process itself for both faculty and students. The joy of experiencing a larger percentage of students engaged in a lively, learning focused process, is only one example of such affective benefits.
Prof. Goedde noted the need for rigorous, well designed experiments to validate numerous aspects of the Research Agenda; experiments that can place results on a firm quantitative basis.