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Instructional-Design Theories and Models: Volume IV, The Learner-Centered Paradigm of Education

Edited by Charles M. Reigeluth, Brian J. Beatty & Rodney D. Myers       2017

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Chapter 15

Designing Just-in-Time Instruction

Gregor M. Novak & Brian J. Beatty


Editors’ Foreword


Preconditions (when to use the theory)


  • All content, especially when conceptual understanding is important and conceptual

                misunderstandings are common.


  • All levels of students who are capable of accessing and completing pre-class online activities;

                requires moderate independent learning skills.

      Learning environments

  • Classroom instruction, supplemented with online resources and activities 

  • Students must meet regularly in a face-to-face setting.

  • Students must have access to technology for communicating outside of class via a learning management system.

      Instructional development constraints

  • Requires instructor ability to use a provided learning management system to present content and facilitate pre-class activity.

  • Moderately more development time may be required to create pre-class content and activities, review student performance, and adjust in-class instruction.


Values (opinions about what is important)

In this chapter, instructional values have not been explicitly addressed; however, based on a careful reading of the introduction and theoretical foundations sections, the following values are supported:

      About ends (learning goals)

  • Metacognition:  JiTT instructors collaborate with students to evaluate the class climate, the affective aspects of the student-teacher interaction, and the cognitive gains that the class is making in the subject area. Students are encouraged and supported to develop self-assessment skills.

      About means (instructional methods)

  • Assessment:  Student understanding is assessed (and self-assessed) frequently and regularly; often before and during every lesson.

      About priorities (criteria for successful instruction)

  • Active learning: Learning is more effective when learners are actively engaged in applying information and concepts.

      About power (to make decisions about the previous three)

  • Learners influence the instructional content: JiTT relies on the use of student responses to pre-class activities to adjust lesson content to fit the specific understanding level of participating students.


Universal Principles

     General (associated with pre-class and in-class tasks)            

          1. The continual assessment principle:  Instructors continually assess learners’ understanding of key concepts through

               pre-class assignments and in-class activities.

          2. The assessment of thinking principle:  Instructor assessment and feedback to students takes into account students’

               thinking and understanding processes, in addition to content acquisition.

     Associated with pre-class assignments

          3. The sequencing principle:  Learning tasks are sequenced from simple to complex. 

          4. The fidelity principle:  Learning tasks are based on real-life tasks.

          5. The variability principle:  Versions of a learning task are sufficiently different from each other to allow for the construction

               of general, abstract schemata. 

          6. The training-wheels principle:  Whole learning tasks require the coordination of many different constituent skills. 

          7. The completion strategy principle:  Support is implied by the learning task description.

     Associated with in-class tasks

          8. Develop an interactive lesson:  In-class sessions should be highly interactive and integrate specific student responses to

               the pre-class activities.

          9. Use unique student responses to explicitly shape the lesson: Instructors should use student responses to modify the

               content and lesson flow.  Modifications to the lesson should take into account the differences between learners.

          10. Use student-centered discussions to extend understanding further.  Instructors should use student-proposed

               extensions to the questions posed in the pre-class activities as a basis for further class discussion, either in a whole group

               or in smaller groups.


Situational Principles

      Variations in JiTT methods due to discipline

  • Pre-class exercises reflect discipline-dependent thought processes. JiTT questions and activities address not only content, concepts, and ideas of the discipline but also the process of learning these (e.g., physics, economics, history). Therefore, JiTT methods should vary based on the ways that learning occurs (and is valued) in specific disciplines.

      Variations in JiTT methods due to pedagogy

  • The pedagogical strategy influences the specific nature of the JiTT methods (e.g., inquiry-based learning, problem-based learning, project-based learning, peer-led instruction, peer instruction). Therefore, JiTT methods should vary based on the overarching pedagogical strategy implemented in a class.

      Variations based on course, lesson, and activity characteristics

  • JiTT assignments can be fine-tuned by deconstructing the structure of the upcoming lesson and carefully considering the student audience and student abilities.

  • Specific JiTT methods may be implemented at the course, lesson, and activity levels; specific methods vary based on the target level.


Implementation Considerations

  • Flexible and adaptive:  Prepare for a trial and error period while adapting existing JiTT materials and creating one’s own.

  • Student-learning-centered:  Work to become sensitive to students’ ideas, attitudes, and state of knowledge and constantly monitor the progress of their learning.

  • Deep understanding of content:  Knowledge about the content includes having a diverse repertory of conceptual pathways for the subject matter at hand to be able to appreciate and respond to students’ ideas.

  • Creative design:  Use a variety of new approaches to develop learning tasks that support this kind of learning.

  • Safe learning environment:  Maintain a classroom climate where everybody is free and encouraged to participate and make mistakes. 

                                                                                                                                                                                       –  C.M.R., B.J.B & R.D.M.

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