Writing Effective JiTT Questions in Economics

JiTT Book Cover - 2010
For more information about writing effective JiTT questions for use in economics courses, see Chapter 8: Using Just-in-Time Teaching in Economics in Just-in-Time Teaching: Across the Disciplines, Across the Academy [Maier and Simkins, 2009]. Many of the examples used below are derived from this work.

Some Useful Ideas for Getting Started

The key to successful JiTT implementation is the development of effective JiTT questions. The activities listed below are particularly well-suited for JiTT exercises in economics. Use the links to see examples of JiTT questions illustrating each activity type.

  1. Applying an economic concept to your own life - These types of questions are particularly valuable when course concepts are abstract and students may need assistance in seeing connections to their own experiences.
  2. Interviewing someone - This is useful when students need practice applying a concept in different contexts.
  3. Consider multiple perspectives on complex policy decisions - These types of questions are helpful when students need assistance understanding the logical arguments underlying competing positions, including those with which they disagree.
  4. Analyze/comment on a political cartoon, an editorial, or a news story - Analyzing the economic content of economics-related political cartoons is a good way to promote students' understanding of economic concepts. JiTT exercises can also be developed around current editorials or news stories.
  5. Tell a story using economic concepts - This type of question is not typically employed by economists but is particularly helpful when students need practice applying a concept in different contexts.
  6. Take on a role: Imagine that... - These types of questions promote flexibility in applying economic concepts while encouraging practice.

Linking JiTT Questions to Learning Goals

JiTT questions are particularly effective when linked to course/discipline related learning goals - in terms of both knowledge (economics concepts) and skills. The following characterizations of learning outcomes/skills provide useful frameworks for developing JiTT exercises.

  • Hansen Proficiencies - According to Lee Hansen (1986), graduates in economics should be proficient in accessing existing knowledge, displaying command of that knowledge, providing interpretations of existing economic knowledge, applying knowledge, asking pertinent and penetrating questions, and creating new knowledge. JiTT exercises can address many of the Hansen Proficiencies.
  • Bloom's Taxonomy ( This site may be offline. ) - Bloom's Taxonomy refers to a hierarchical classification of cognitive thinking processes developed by Benjamin Bloom (1956). The taxonomy includes the following six thinking processes, listed from low-level to high-level: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Bloom's taxonomy is a useful guide for developing JiTT exercises targeted at specific learning outcomes.
  • Learning Sciences – Learning sciences research [see, e.g., Bransford, Brown, and Cocking (2000) ] has shown that student learning can be improved by discovering and addressing student pre/misconceptions, helping students develop expert-like thinking, providing opportunities for students to practice concepts in a variety of settings, and promoting metacognition. JiTT exercises can be developed to intentionally integrate these learning sciences findings and improve student learning.
Find out more about developing effective JiTT questions...