We have based most of the discussion in this book on physics because it is our primary subject. However, there is nothing in our underlying method that is specific to physics. Interactivity and responsiveness are applicable to any instructional setting, and student achievement and motivation are important in any subject. While any course can benefit from JiTT, it is easy to describe those courses that can benefit the most: any course that students consider to be of secondary importance to their lives or their education. Courses taken to satisfy requirements and courses taken by part-time students meet these criteria. We use physics examples because we are familiar and experienced with them. We hope that this does not put off instructors from other fields. We encourage others to adapt our ideas to their own subjects.
What Is JiTT?
Just-in-time-Teaching is a teaching and learning strategy comprised of two elements: classroom activities that promote active learning and World Wide Web resources that are used to enhance the classroom component. Many industries use JiTT methods; they combine high-speed communications and rapid distribution systems to improve efficiency and flexibility. Our use of JiTT is analogous in many ways. We combine high-speed communications on the Web with our ability to rapidly adjust to our students' needs. The essential element is feedback between the Web-based and classroom activities.
We have built the JiTT system around Web-based preparatory assignments that are due a few hours before class. The students complete these assignments individually, at their own pace, and submit them electronically. In turn, we adjust and organize the classroom lessons in response to the student submissions "Just-in-Time." Thus, a feedback loop between the classroom and the Web is established. Each lecture is preceded and informed by an assignment on the Web. This cycle occurs several times each week, encouraging students to stay current and to do so by studying in several sessions that are short enough to avoid fatigue.
The JiTT GoalsWe strive for both physics content mastery and acquisition of more general skills. We also design our courses to provide experiences in teamwork and opportunities to practice written and oral communication. Our goal is to help the whole spectrum of students advance and learn, rather than targeting the average students or either extreme. The JiTT strategy provides appropriate levels of support and feedback. JiTT provides remediation and encouragement to the weaker students while providing enrichment to the stronger students.
Students Enrolled in a Course that Successfully Implements JiTT Will:
In addition to traditional homework assignments, students taking a JiTT-based course work in two interactive instructional environments. They work at their own pace in a virtual, Web-based setting that continually evolves with the progress of the class. They also collaborate with each other and instructors in a highly interactive classroom. Electronic communication among students and faculty provides a bridge between these two settings.
The JiTT Strategy Specifically Target Obstacles Facing Many of Today's Students:
These goals and difficulties are addressed by combining high-tech (Web-based) and low-tech (classroom) elements, which we will discuss throughout this book. The feedback between these elements and between the people involved is the most fundamental asset of the JiTT method.
The JITT Environment
We have been student-testing this strategy for five semesters and are encouraged by the results, both attitudinal and cognitive. For details, visit the JiTT Web-site: http://webphysics.iupui.edu/jitt.html.
In fact, working with the JiTT strategy has convinced us that the Web, combined with live teachers in the classroom, can humanize instruction for all students and make a real difference to the nontraditional student.
We have developed JiTT concurrently at three institutions: Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI), the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) in Colorado Springs and Davidson College. The JiTT strategy is effective despite numerous differences among the three institutions (we will elaborate in Chapter 2). This suggests that JiTT is applicable in many other settings. The generality of the JiTT approach is also shown by our experiences with national JiTT workshops attended by faculty from a broad spectrum of institutions. For example, Daniel Kim-Shapiro, an assistant professor of physics at Wake Forest University, a private four-year liberal arts institution, has successfully employed the JiTT strategy in his calculus-based introductory physics course taken by approximately 50 students. most of whom were pre-med majors. His students gave the use of the strategy an overall rating of 8 out of 10 on an end-of-course survey. It is interesting to note that in similar surveys at IUPUI, USAFA, and Davidson, our students also gave the JiTT strategy a score of 8 out of 10.
What JITT Is Not
Despite our best efforts to explain what JiTT is, some readers may pick up false impressions. With this in mind, we would like to list a few things that JiTT is not:
We pay attention to our students' comments and suggestions. We agree with some but disagree with others. The JiTT strategy was not designed with student evaluations as the motivation for change; it was designed to address pedagogical issues.
Downloaded from Professor's Tomorrow's Listserv, February 27, 2001. The excerpt is from the book, Just-in-Time Teaching: Blending Active Learning with Web Technology by Gregor M. Novak, Indiana University-Purdue University, Evelyn T. Patterson, United States Air Force Academy, Andrew D. Gavrin, Indiana University-Purdue University, and Wolfgang Christian, Davidson College, (c) 1999 Prentice Hall. Reprinted with permission.