Just-in-Time Teaching (JiTT) was developed by Novak, Patterson, Garvin, and Chrstian (1999) and adapted for use in economics by Simkins and Maier (2010). JiTT is an intentionally designed teaching and learning strategy that (Simkins 2012:107):
- helps to structure and focus student studuying
- encourage preparation for class
- suggest just-in-time modifications of in-class activities focussed on student learning challenges.
The strategy is deceptively simple (Simkins 2012:107). Students submit responses to online execrises (typically using course management software) a few hours before class (Simkins 2012:107). Instructors review the responses before class and use it to develop in-class activities for the upcoming classroom session (Simkins 2012:107). JiTT exercises (Simkins 2012:107):
- are generally short
- focus on concepts and ideas that will be covered in the next class
- require students to do something in order to complete the exercise.
JiTT activities can include (Simkins 2012:107):
- read a textbook chapter, article newspaper story
- carry out a simulation
- solve a problem
- draw and manipulate graphs
- obtain and analyse data.
As a result, JiTT exercises promote increased time on task while also providing valuable information about students’ understanding of course concepts prior to class.
On the surface JiTT appears to simply be a structured way to organise and focus students’ out-of-class study time (Simkins 2012:107). When used in an intentionally and systematic way, JiTT becomes a powerful teaching and learning tool that promotes deep and durable learning (Simkins 2012:107). The following example illustrates the benefit of JiTT exercises in making visible students’ thinking and the way JiTT responses can be used in class to address confusion that students may have about fundamental economic concepts.
Simkins’s Example for a principles course (p. 107)
Describe the role of the price of a good in a perfectly competitive markets to equilibrium if there is currently a shortage in the market. To fully answer this question, consider the following two questions:
- What will happen to the price of good in this case? Why?
- How does the change in price of good provide an incentive for demanders and suppliers to change their behaviour in this situation, thus bringing the market to equilibrium? Explain.
While perfectly competitive markets are rarely found in real life, the concepts of price changing in response to actions of buyers and sellers is a critical, if abstract, building block in economics Simkins 2012:107). This exercise can be used near the beginning of a principles-level course and would be assigned prior to discussing this topic in class (along with relevant text material).
These actual (unedited) student responses were selected because they represented a variety of thought processes that are unclear or simply incorrect (Simkins 2012:108).
- The prices will increase because of shortage of the goods available. The change in price would cause demanders not to purchase as much of the good and the suppliers would not be willing to provide the good. Therefore moving toward equilibrium is good for both sides.
- The price of good will lower for the markets behind to catch up. They would have to make more products because the demand would be great for that product. That’s what they have to do since they are selling the product so cheap.
- If the market is experiencing a shortage then the market will be forced to raise the prices because they are trying to reach an equilibrium. Demanders will have to want more ans the suppliers will have to supply more in order to bring the market to equilibrium.
- The shortage of good would, if viewed on a supply and demand model, cause the supply curve to shift to the left. That would raise the price of that good in the market place. If the demand of a product, good, or service is greater than the supply the price would be higher. The producers of that good or providers of that service would be wise to make more of the good available to take advantage of the higher prices. The consumers on the other hand, would have to decide if the good or service in question was a necessity at that present time. The consumer could either pay the going rate or wait until the market conditions were more favourable to the consumer. When the demand decreases the price would again lower.
The answers are partially correct, as would be expected when students are first introduced to a topic. However, they also provide insights in the ways that student thinking is flawed and highlight a need for further discussion.
These responses can be used as the basis for cooperative learning exercises (Simkins 2012:108).
How can it be used in an online learning environment?
- What about a multiple choice item where the correct answer be added. For each of the errors the student can be taken to another level, where they are provided with the opportunity to identify the problem with the statement. If correct, they can go to the next question. If not, they can be provided with another opportunity to find the error in the statement.
- What about a group discussion where the students can identify the errors in each of the statements?
Students may remain confused after facing the four responses listed above due to own personal economic experience (Simkins 2012:109). Therefore, the challenge is to match personal economic experience with abstract models and concepts (Simkins 2012:109) provided the following example of an unedited student response to illustrate his point:
Whenever there is a shortage in the market, it means that the quantity demand is much greater than quantity supplied. Thus companies will raise the price of their goods or services. Since it’s a shortage, the consumers will purchase these goods or services. Fore example, when the Playstation 2 came out last year, there was a shortage, and it ran about $499. Since it was a shortage, consumers were quick to purchase it. After consumers keep purchasing the products, it no longer becomes a shortage. Soon or later, the company, due to competition, will lower its prices. Like, in the example, I gave, after a couple of months the price of Playstation 2 dropped down to $299. When consumers continued to purchase the products it allows the price to go down to reach equilibrium.
This student experienced in his or her life the opposite of what standard economics theory would predict in the short run with regard to that a fall in prices following a period of shortage (Simkins 2012:109). Knowing this, the instructor could indicate how the abstract concept discussed above might differ from behaviour actually observed in the marketplace due to differences in time periods, market power of firms, and so on – and might even show this response to illustrate the point (Simkins 2012:109).
This JiTT exercise make instructors aware of thought processes, therefore Just-in-Time-Learning opportunities can be provided (my idea). so that these ideas can be addressed explicitly while students are actively involved in the knowledge creation process (Sinkins 2012:109).
Why are JiTT exercises necessary?
Simkins (2012:109) provided the following reasons for using JiTT exercises:
- Students are more engaged because the activities they complete are directly related to their own learning challenges, made visible by their JiTT responses
- sharing of their responses sends the message that