Developing Effective Questions for JiTT Exercises
Some Practical Considerations
- Before you write your questions, ask yourself: "What do I want my students to know, understand, apply, analyze, synthesize, or evaluate prior to class?" In answering this question, it is useful to work backwards from the in-class activity you plan to use. In other words, what do your students need to have thought about or done in order to be fully prepared for that activity?
- JiTT questions should be relatively brief and take students only 15-30 minutes to answer.
- The more involved the problems, the fewer questions should be given to the students. Three to four questions is a typical number, and sometimes they include both multiple choice and short response questions.
- It is useful to include a question asking what was most important, interesting, or confusing about the reading. Responses to these questions help to target in-class teaching and can jump-start engaging classroom discussions.
Linking JiTT Questions to Course Learning Objectives
Starting with the question "At the end of this course, what do I want my students to know and be able to do?" focuses student and instructor attention on the most important concepts, ideas, and skills in the course, reinforcing course and program goals. For example, do you want to use JiTT exercises to:
- develop and extend students' critical and analytical thinking skills?
- improve students' quantitative reasoning skills?
- increase students' facility using multiple representations (verbal, graphical, quantitative, and/or analytical) of models?
- scaffold disciplinary thinking processes – e.g. the use of evidence in making causal claims?
- enhance students' problem-solving skills?
The course learning objectives you have for your course will determine what kinds of JiTT questions will be most effective in achieving those objectives.
Linking JiTT Questions to Bloom's Taxonomy
Before you write your questions, ask yourself: "What do I want my students to know, understand, apply, analyze, synthesize, or evaluate prior to class?" You may very well want to work backwards from the in-class activity you plan to use. In other words, what do your students need to have thought about or done in order to be fully prepared for that activity?
- Knowledge and Comprehension
Making use of Learning Sciences Research
Learning sciences research suggests the importance of helping students uncover (and confront) pre/misconceptions, develop expert-like thinking processes, transfer knowledge to new, unfamiliar situations, and build metacognitive skills. Intentionally linking JiTT questions to the principles summarized in How People Learn (2000) and Angelo and Cross (1993) increases the impact of JiTT pedagogy on student learning outcomes.
- Making visible student pre/misconceptions about important course concepts and topics
ConcepTests are conceptual multiple-choice questions that are used for in-class formative assessment, often incorporating classroom response systems and used in conjunction with Peer Instruction (references). ConcepTests often make good questions for JiTT exercises.