Benefits for Students

Initial Publication Date: January 7, 2011
This is what students have to say about JiTT:
  • ... it made me read on my own rather than wait for you to teach me.
  • The exercises allowed you to become familiar with the material so that you would be able to participate in class discussions.
  • It made me better disciplined.
  • ... I also liked the fact that the JiTT assignments were used along with class discussion. Even if you got the JiTT wrong you were still able to learn through the discussion.
JiTT supports the effective teaching practices outlined by Chickering and Gamson (1987) and the research on how students learn [see, for example, Bransford, Brown, and Cocking (1999, 2000)] in the following ways [see also Research on JiTT]:

Improving Pre-Class Preparation

  • Structuring out-of-class learning to increase time on task- JiTT exercises are designed to focus student attention, scaffold effective learning processes, promote interactive engagement with course material, and encourage reflective learning. All of these behaviors are positively associated with effective learning.
  • Increasing motivation for out-of-class preparation- Students see a direct connection between their out-of-class effort and in-class instruction. Students' JiTT responses inform classroom activities, which are focused on the learning challenges highlighted in their responses, building a positive feedback loop that encourages completion of future JiTT exercises and greater student-faculty interaction. In short, students see that their out-of-class efforts make a real difference in what happens in class, which in turn is focused on addressing their most important learning challenges.

Improving In-Class Learning

  • Increasing learning in the classroom- Students who come to class prepared are able to learn more and contribute more to others' learning in the classroom. JiTT exercises require students to interact with course material prior to the upcoming class, increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of classroom activities.
  • Providing frequent and immediate feedback on learning- JiTT makes learning gaps visible – to both instructors and students – through review and posting of students' JiTT responses in class. Follow-up in-class exercises based on these responses provide additional opportunities for students to obtain feedback on their thinking processes and gauge their level of understanding relative to their peers.
  • Confronting mis/preconceptions- JiTT exercises are most helpful when they make visible students' current mental models and thinking processes. Often these thought processes inhibit student learning and lead to the all-too-common result that what students are learning is not the same as what we are teaching. Once student pre/misconceptions are identified, in-class exercises can be developed that lead students to contradictory outcomes, providing an opportunity for effective knowledge-building (see Interactive Lecture Demonstrations for examples of how to develop exercises that confront student preconceptions).

Promoting Long-term Learning

  • Developing metacognitive skills- Including a JiTT question such as "After completing this assignment, I am still unsure of..." helps students to develop reflective skills that promote self-directed and self-monitoring learning, skills critical for advanced and life-long learning.
  • Improving transfer of knowledge- Effective JiTT exercises require students to explain not only their answers, but also the thought process that led them to those answers. By focusing on thinking processes as well as content, students begin to develop transferable thinking skills that they can apply in a variety of settings and to problems that they have not encountered previously.
  • Linking new information and concepts to prior knowledge and real-world issues- JiTT exercises are often most effective when students are asked to relate new course material and concepts to prior experiences and relevant real-world issues and events. This helps to create a knowledge-making bridge that promotes durable, long-term learning.