Why use Just-in-Time Teaching?
JiTT pedagogy builds on decades of research on effective teaching practices and is grounded in learning sciences research that emphasizes active student engagement in the learning process.
In addition, course-based research in a number of disciplines has shown that JiTT has a positive impact on student learning outcomes, while at the same time increasing in-class teaching efficiency and effectiveness.
Linda Nilson's popular Teaching at its Best (2010) highlights JiTT as an effective "inquiry-guided learning" teaching practice (p. 179) that can transform lecture-based courses into more interactive, collaborative, problem-based learning experiences (p. 202) and increase student accountability for learning (p. 220).
JiTT Promotes Effective Teaching Practices
- Increasing student-instructor (and student-student) contact JiTT enhances connections between students and instructors, both through personal feedback on JiTT responses and classroom activities that are informed by those responses. Students see an immediate link between their out-of-class JiTT exercises and follow-up in-class activities, which are developed "just-in-time" to target student learning challenges made visible in students' JiTT responses. Interactive, cooperative-learning-based in-class activities promote student-student contact and provide students with additional opportunities for formative assessment of their learning. Novak, et al. (1999) report a more personal and intimate bond between instructors and students and an increase in communication from students in JiTT courses.
- Encouraging active learningJiTT exercises are designed so that students must "do something" beyond simply reading the textbook in order to answer JiTT questions. Typically, these questions require higher-order thinking skills, such as analysis, problem-solving, and application, that go beyond mere familiarity and memorization.
- Encouraging cooperative learningIn-class follow-up exercises based on students' JiTT responses emphasize cooperative learning strategies whenever possible to promote active engagement with course concepts and provide additional opportunities for formative assessment and monitoring of student learning.
- Providing prompt feedbackJiTT promotes real-time feedback for both students and instructors on student learning challenges. Students' JiTT responses are used in class as the basis for in-class discussion and follow-up small-group activities. Both directly target learning gaps highlighted in the JiTT responses. As a result, students get immediate and frequent feedback on their learning in the course.
- Encouraging time on taskJiTT exercises intentionally structure and focus out-of-class studying and encourage regular interaction with course materials. Additionally, because JiTT exercises are relatively brief, they help to break down the learning process into manageable chunks of time.
- Communicating high expectationsJiTT exercises signal high expectations and model good learning processes by prompting students to actively engage with course materials, process new information, and connect it in meaningful ways to their prior knowledge. JiTT exercises generally require students to practice higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills in a variety of settings. Consequently, students not only learn course content, but also develop transferable learning skills that promote learning in other contexts.
- Providing a variety of teaching styles to increase the learning effectiveness for students with diverse different learning styles.While learning sciences research provides little empirical support for the concept of "learning styles," one clear benefit of JiTT is that it makes student learning processes visible for instructors. As a result, in-class instruction can specifically target student learning challenges and provide multiple pathways for learning. JiTT provides a scaffold to help students structure their learning, link new information to previous knowledge, and practice new skills and concepts through "hands on, minds on" learning in the classroom.
JiTT Supports Research on How People Learn
"As a result of the accumulation of new kinds of information about human learning, views of how effective learning proceeds have shifted from the benefits of diligent drill and practice to focus on students' understanding and application of knowledge." (How People Learn, p. xi)
In particular, How People Learn highlights five key factors related to improving student learning. JiTT pedagogy is especially well-suited to incorporate these factors into your teaching practices.
- Understanding students' pre/misconceptionsStudents don't come into our classes as blank slates; their current mental models, developed in a variety of ways, affect what they learn. As a result, what students learn is often different from what we're teaching. Effective JiTT exercises uncover student pre/misconceptions, which then can be directly addressed in the follow-up class session through hands-on, interactive activities that help students discover inconsistencies in their thinking processes.
- Developing expert-like performance and learningExperts use structured mental models to order and categorize new information; novices tend to focus on surface properties and often fail to develop the structured mental models that characterize expert learning. JiTT exercises make visible to instructors naive, novice-like thinking processes in time to develop follow-up in-class activities that help to scaffold expert-like thinking.
- Encouraging the development of transferable knowledgeFor students to develop the ability to transfer knowledge to new situations they must be given the opportunity to apply new knowledge in a variety of situations and contexts. This takes repeated practice, guided learning, and feedback "about the degree to which they know when, where, and how to use the knowledge they are learning." (p. 47) JiTT exercises should provide students with opportunities to apply course concepts in a variety of new ways, helping to build transferable knowledge. Carefully constructed in-class activities provide additional opportunities to practice key course concepts, focusing on areas of conceptual challenge highlighted in students' JiTT responses.
- Emphasizing formative assessmentAssessment is critical to provide students with feedback on their learning; assessment should include both content knowledge and process knowledge (e.g. how students solve problems). Effective JiTT exercises require students to reflect on both course content and the processes needed to solve problems, carry out critical analyses, evaluate information, and synthesize ideas, all higher-order thinking skills. In-class, follow-up cooperative learning activities provide additional opportunities for students to obtain immediate feedback on their learning processes.
- Helping students become reflective (metacognitive) learners.To promote life-long learning, we need to help students become self-directed, reflective learners. This requires directed practice that encourages student reflection about the learning process and how learning is being achieved. JiTT exercises typically include at least one question asking students to reflect on learning gaps uncovered in their pre-class preparation; in turn, instructors can use this knowledge to assist students in monitoring and assessing their own learning and seeking assistance to close those gaps when needed.
Learn more about how to foster metacognition in students.