What is the Just in Time Teaching Strategy?

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What is the Just in Time Teaching Strategy?

George Novak, the founder of the Just in Time Teaching Strategy (JiTT), defines it as a “teaching and learning strategy based on the interaction between web-based study assignments and an active learner classroom.” It embodies a combination of a flipped classroom and technological and formative assessments to create an interactive learning experience for students.

JiTT differs from typical class routines in that the actual content learning first occurs outside of the classroom. This means, that students are expected to use their outside-class hours to prepare for a lesson by reading text materials, or other resources and by completing various digital assignments posted online. The teacher receives these answers the day before the actual class time (hence the name just in time) and uses these responses to plan for and make changes to the lesson structure. The advance preparation helps both the teacher and students engage in more complete and comprehensive learning during class hours.

How does the Just in Time Teaching Strategy promote learning?

The strategy incorporates three key elements that are instrumental in facilitating student learning. These elements include:

  1. Time for active learning: By shifting some of the learning of the content to out-of class times, and by promoting the use of class time for cooperative learning and problem solving activities, the strategy is promoting the application of various active learning approaches. These are vital to helping students learn.
  2. Connecting information: Learning occurs best when students are able to activate their previous knowledge to new information. JiTT provides opportunities to build connections while learning due to the individual learning and group learning activities.
  3. Prompt feedback: Providing prompt feedback serves as a backbone of this strategy. The answers to the web-assignments provide feedback to the teacher regarding students understanding of a subject. These responses are then used to tailor the lesson that shows the students that their responses are valued and considered.

Implementation in the classroom

The two essential aspects of this strategy are the web-based assignments and the in classroom active learning activities.

Web-Based Assignments:

The Just in Time Teaching Strategy includes the use of web-based study assignments that are generally categorized as warm up exercises. These serve as introductory assignments and are designed to make the students reflect about the upcoming lesson. Students are instructed to complete these warm up activities before formal instruction on a topic is given. They have to answer a few simple and short questions related to the lesson so as to stimulate analytical thought and reflection of the lesson during the cooperative group activity. Answering the questions requires the students to activate their past learning to try to understand the new content.The answers can be incomplete or incorrect as they aid in lesson planning (such as spending extra time in clearing any misconceptions) and for guiding class discussions.

Teachers can choose and prepare the pre-class tasks and instruct the students in advance (a day or two before actual commencement of the lesson) to complete the assignments and be ready for the lesson. Students are expected to submit their responses before the actual lecture or activity day.

In class lectures and group activities:

The biggest advantage of the Just in Time Teaching Strategy is that, when compared with a passive classroom, classes implementing this strategy have students who are more motivated and interested in participating in the class activities (having recently engaged in the pre-assignments) and have an increased sense of ownership knowing that their responses were instrumental in shaping the in-class hours.

Teachers can use this strategy to have students complete their warm up exercises before class and then teach the lesson plan in class the following day. After the teacher teaches the content based on how the class performed on their individual exercises, the teacher can plan group activities to put the new knowledge into action. These group activities can be engaging and inquiry based to help students understand the new information on a deeper level.

Thus using the Just in Time Teaching Strategy,teachers can help improve student interest and motivation that often increases active learning and student engagement, resulting in the creation of a more productive learning environment.

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