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Using JiTT Responses to Develop Classroom Activities

Initial Publication Date: January 7, 2011

Students' JiTT responses are used to develop structured interactive classroom activities for the next class. These activities can be simple or complex but should focus on student learning gaps highlighted in students' JiTT responses. Hands-on, interactive, cooperative-learning activities that intentionally address student learning challenges work best.

Designing Follow-up Classroom Activities

When you know that most of your students have completed the required reading, reflected on it, and answered questions about it, your options for what to do during class expand exponentially. The language used in class to present and discuss the content comes directly from the student responses. Each class session is unique because the students in each class are unique.

Some Practical Advice:
  • Student responses will usually fall into a fairly well-defined set of categories. Before going to class, select representative examples for class discussion from the full set of responses. Make sure that all the students get their day in class.
  • Revise the lesson flow now that you have the actual responses. The lesson does not have to be elaborately written out. Just a flow of ideas is usually sufficient. The fact that the wording actually comes from the class makes the lesson fresh and interesting to students.
  • Go to class and be ready to improvise if necessary. The lesson flow is pretty much predetermined, but the words used in class will flow from the student responses and, most importantly, will be influenced by the feedback from the live class.

A Few Possibilities to Consider:

If student answers to one or more of your questions show differences of opinion, you can capitalize on those differences to spark a discussion. Make a slide or overhead showing two of the contrasting answers, project them, and ask your students to comment on them. Seeing one anothers' responses - and asking students to analyze them - helps to sharpen learning and communication skills. If comfortable, ask the author of a particular response to defend the response. The class can then be asked to respond. If several alternatives emerge the activity can move into a peer-instruction mode where students vote on the alternatives, converse in small groups and re-vote. Classroom response system technology (clickers) can be very effective here. You can use the contrasting answers for a think-pair-share exercise, mediated through the use of clickers.
If the topic of the day is pertinent to a real-world problem, ask students to analyze real data or use an investigative case study. Tying course material to real-world problems helps students to see the relevance of what they're learning and increases their interest in the course.
If the topic of the day lends itself to a role-playing activity, use one. In a small class, assign each student or small groups of students to particular roles. In a large class you can have students form small groups with each playing a particular role or you can ask for volunteers to take on roles in front of the class.

While the examples above can be carried out in a variety of ways, JiTT is most effective when implemented using structured cooperative learning techniques.

Combining JiTT with Other Pedagogies

One of the greatest strengths of Just-in-Time Teaching is its flexibility as a teaching tool. JiTT exercises can easily be combined with a variety of innovative, student-centered teaching practices, including:
  • Classroom Experiments - JiTT exercises can be used to generate predictions ahead of the actual in-class experiments. Committing to a prediction prior to an experiment has been shown to improve learning in physics (Crouch, Fagen, Callan, and Mazur, 2004).
  • Cooperative Learning - JiTT is particularly effective when combined with in-class cooperative learning exercises. Student responses to JiTT questions provide a context for in-class cooperative learning exercises such as think-pair-share, jigsaw, or send-a-problem.
  • Peer Instruction - Harvard physicist Eric Mazur uses JiTT to uncover student pre/misconceptions, using student responses to generate in-class ConcepTest questions that students answer in pairs using personal response systems.
  • Case Method - Responses to JiTT questions provide information to the instructor on areas of confusion or misunderstanding prior to class. This information can be used to develop cases designed to address the confusion or misunderstanding.
  • Context Rich Problems - JiTT exercises can be used to help instructors better understand students' learning gaps so that in-class context-rich problems can be developed that directly address those gaps. Alternatively, context-rich problems can be used as JiTT exercises to build students' problem-solving skills.
  • Interactive Lecture Demonstrations - Student responses to JiTT questions can help uncover student mis/preconceptions, which can then be addressed via in-class interactive lecture demonstrations. In addition, interactive lecture demonstrations can be adapted for use as JiTT exercises.

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