SIP 2.10: Just in Time Teaching

Woman in classroom looking at a clockThirsty for Strong Instructional Practice?

If you ask instructors what their students could do to help their learning, many will lament that “students don’t prepare for class time.” Indeed there is a consistent (and long) record of studies showing that less than a third of students adequately prepare for class. In a fairly broad survey, significant fractions of students (from 9% to 69%) admit that they sometimes don’t even obtain the required textbook (references at the bottom).

On the other side of the preparation coin, instructors usually have no effective way to prepare for time with their current group students. Instructors may have a “generic” plan for what the next class meeting will entail, but they usually don’t walk into class already knowing what their students think about a new topic.

Take a SIP of this: Just-in-Time Teaching

Just-in-Time Teaching is an evidence-based technique that gives both students and instructors a fairly different role in preparing for class, which also allows class time to spent on active-engagement, enhancing learning even further.

Students are engaged with pre-class “WarmUps” in which they apply the material they have read about (or watched in a video). Instructors get to process the WarmUp responses prior to class, allowing them to customize class time and bring in student voices in a powerful way.

WarmUps are a type of formative assessment with low-stakes, engaging questions. Students have to engage with the questions, but don’t have to demonstrate mastery (yet), allowing them to move away from “answer-getting” to “sense-making” in their first interactions with new concepts and content.

Real examples of WarmUp questions (from courses around our campus):

  • Give an example of a time you conformed due to normative influence. Give an example of a time you conformed due to informational influence. (Intro. Psych.)
  • Suppose you are interested in researching why and how some women fake orgasms. How would you design a study to answer those questions? (Human Sexuality)
  • You can probably stand flatfooted on the floor and then rise up and balance on your tiptoes. Why are you unable to do this if you stand so your toes are touching a wall? (Intro. Physics)
  • What is your first memory of gender defining or impacting your life? (Women in the Developing World)

Responding to these questions engages students in a new (and active) way. Reading the responses arms the instructor with insight for how class can proceed and allows them to bring a variety of student voices into the classroom (anonymously) to spur discussion and prompt thinking..

JiTT can be implemented using nearly any LMS, or by using 3rd-party websites (such as

Still thirsty for a SIP of Just-in-Time Teaching?

Resources for investigating or adopting Just-in-Time Teaching


Both of these statistics are mentioned on the first page of the following paper by Sappington, et al.:
Sappington J, Kinsey K and Munsayac K (2002) Two studies of reading compliance among college students. Teaching of Psychology 29(4): 272–274.


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