Just in Time Teaching (JiTT)

This material was originally created for Starting Point:Introductory Geology
and is replicated here as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service.

Original module developed by by Laura Guertin, Carol Ormand, Gregor Novak, and Andy Gavrin. Revised and enhanced by Scott Simkins with assistance from Gregor Novak, Marcelo Clerici-Arias, and Rae Jean Goodman.

JiTT in Action: Watch Karen Grove (San Francisco State University) using JiTT to stimulate active and collaborative learning both inside and outside the classroom. The video clips are part of the MERLOT ELIXR initiative.

What is Just-in-Time Teaching (JiTT)?

Just-in-Time Teaching focuses on improving student learning through the use of brief web-based questions (JiTT exercises) delivered before a class meeting. Students' responses to JiTT exercises are reviewed by the instructor a few hours before class and are used to develop classroom activities addressing learning gaps revealed in the JiTT responses. JiTT exercises allow instructors to quickly gather information about student understanding of course concepts immediately prior to a class meeting and tailor activities to meet students' actual learning needs.

Learn more about Just-in-Time Teaching...

Why use Just-in-Time Teaching?

Just-in-Time Teaching improves student learning and increases in-class teaching efficiency and effectiveness. JiTT does this by incorporating research-based knowledge about effective teaching and learning practices. Specifically, JiTT:
  • Improves students' preparation for class
  • Enhances student motivation for learning
  • Promotes ongoing formative assessment of student learning (by both instructors and students)
  • Informs in-class activities that target student learning gaps

It is easy to feel disconnected from a science course as a student. Each day can seem as a new set of notes to take from the instructor's monologue, another chapter to read and another problem set to work on, but each unrelated to the previous day, that is, until the exam. The situation changes if the assignments are designed to pose questions that require some real effort and the interaction with other students ahead of class, but providing the assurance that the toughest points will be cleared up in the class makes that work worthwhile. Just-in-Time Teaching can offer that kind of day-to-day motivation and interaction that drives the course forward.

(Project Kaleidoscope, 2007)

Teaching and learning is most effective as an interactive dialogue between a student and an instructor who are at liberty to talk "about" the subject - that is to probe it from different angles and at different depths to satisfy the learner's immediate needs.

Carrying on a "dialogue" with a classroom of students by creating learning needs, assessing those needs and responding to them when they exist is a challenge many instructors simply avoid. If not well-organized, it can be time-consuming and problematic in large classes due to uneven willingness of students to participate.

Using web-technology to coordinate the dialogue is a feature of Just-in-Time Teaching that makes responsive instruction for an entire class possible.

(Project Kaleidoscope, 2007)

Learn more about the benefits of JiTT for students and instructors...

How to use Just-in-Time Teaching

A key to successful JiTT implementation is developing a set of effective questions that will be posted online for students to answer before the next class. JiTT questions are generally open-ended and require students to do something - read a textbook chapter or article, analyze a video, complete a simulation, or analyze data - related to material that will be addressed during the next class period. For each JiTT exercise, instructors post JiTT questions in a course management system and students respond online a few hours before class. After the posting deadline - but before class begins - instructors examine students' responses, group them into clusters reflecting similar thinking processes, and select a representative sample of responses to show in class. The instructor also uses the student responses to develop interactive in-class activities targeting learning gaps identified in the JiTT responses.

Learn more about getting started with JiTT in your own class...


The JiTT Examples page includes a collection of ready-to-use JiTT exercises, including follow-up in-class activities and teaching notes on how to best use the JiTT exercise in your own class. Use them as-is or adapt as needed for your own course.

Learn more about JiTT examples you can adapt for your class...

References and Resources

JiTT Book Cover - 1999
JiTT Book Cover - 2010
JiTT was originally developed for use in physics education in 1999 but since then has been adapted for use in a wide variety of disciplines. The JiTT References and Resources page includes a large collection of valuable JiTT information, including web- and print-based resources illustrating JiTT's development, use and effectiveness across disciplines.

Learn more about JiTT, its development, and effectiveness across disciplines...

National Science Foundation (NSF) Support for JiTT

NSF logo
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has supported the development and diffusion of JiTT across the academy, including original developmental work in physics (DUE 9752365) , follow-up dissemination efforts in chemistry, biology, and mathematics (DUE 9981111) , adaptations in economics (DUE 0088303) and engineering (DUE 0737146) , and the development of the JiTT Digital Library (DUE 0333646) . The most recent JiTT-related NSF award aims to integrate JiTT with Peer Instruction across multiple STEM disciplines (DUE 1022563).

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