Monday, March 17, 2014

Just in Time Teaching

Engaging Learners: 21st Century Pedagogies
Teacher-Scholar Forum
March 14, 2014

Another session I attended at the Teacher/Scholar Forum was presented by Jeff Loats on "Just in Time Teaching (JiTT)" I think many classroom instructors would be able to identify with what is often times a big challenge: getting students to complete prep work before they come to class.  Just in time teaching has some similarities (and differences) to the flipped classroom technique but focuses on the accountability of prep work to allow for an increase effectiveness and engagement during class time. JiTT is NOT about moving assignments online.
Loats explains that the purpose of JiTT:  1) hold students accountable for prep work and 2) to improve faculty insight to optimize in-class experiences.

They had a panel of 6 instructors who tried the JiTT approach into their teaching and they pointed out that indeed it is shift in thinking, not only for students but for the instructor as well. One instructor illustrated this by comparing non JiTT versus using JiTT in that perhaps what instructors are using to having a given plan for teaching a session and they do it the same way each year for the "average" student. Just in time teaching will have the instructor plan the session on that 'particular set of students' they have that specific term.
Here are the basics of JiTT:
  1. Create a structure of encouraging students to complete prep work through (low stakes) 'warm-up' exercises that directly tie the prep work to the in class activity. The warm up activity is graded on "thoughtful effort" rather than right or wrong answers. They suggested perhaps having one basic open ended question about the reading and one essay question that begins to ask them to apply what they just read, even if they are just estimating or creating a hypothesis about a situation.
  2. Students submit this 'warm-up' the night before class and the instructor reviews and adjusts the in-class activity based on it. (they offered some strategies for instructors who have 30+ students)
  3. Share anonymously in class some of the student responses to the warm-ups and discuss. Break down the metacognitive thought processes

A couple of resources:

Friday, March 14, 2014

Critical thinking across the curriculum

Engaging Learners: 21st Century Pedagogies
Teacher-Scholar Forum
March 14, 2014

I attended the Teacher-Scholar Forum today and would like to share a brief summary of one of the great sessions I attended. (other blog posts to follow)

 I sat in on the critical thinking session that was comprised of 3 parts presented by the US Air Force Academy. They started with pointing out that they identified the need for critical thinking skills to be across the WHOLE curriculum, even in lower level courses. They also worked with the faculty to define critical thinking and brainstormed different methods that they might illustrate critical thinking processes in their courses. Bringing faculty to a 'common language' and on the same page when it comes to critical thinking is important for success.
The Air Force Academy group went on to discuss how they are utilizing a specific tool at their institution called the Critical Thinking Assessment Test (CAT).
This testing instrument has 15 questions that span a range of critical thinking skills. The test is all essay but takes the students roughly an hour to complete. They are able to score in house and here is the amazing thing: they put together a bunch of faculty across the curriculum to hand score the exam. One of the instructors from the academy, Captain Ilea Eskildsen, said she was really surprised and amazed at the experience of grading the tests. She said it gave her a powerful perspective of what the students were lacking and gave her some direction on where to be more purposeful in her courses and working in those critical thinking processes. The academy has been implementing this instrument for 4 years now and although they have seen a slight increase in scores they are still able to identify areas they need to continue working on with their students. They said that the where measures of critical thinking most aligned with what was practiced in the class, students significantly outperformed a representative sample of students. Then those measures that were not aligned as well with what was on the test, they performed with no significant difference.  They found that students often struggled with applying critical thinking in different contexts especially when they go from course to course.
The bottom line that they concluded from the results is:
  • Deliberate development of critical thinking skills can improve student performance! 
  • Provide multiple opportunities for practice and feedback that utilize varied questions context and composition. 
  • (While in class and you are practicing critical thinking) require students to evaluate their own answers.