Breakout session B:
Web-based Support for Teaching and Learning in Large Enrollment Classrooms

Breakout session B
Web-based Support for Teaching and Learning in Large Enrollment Classrooms

Sataurday, November 22, 2003
2:30 - 4:00 pm

Evelyn T. Patterson, Professor of Physics- U.S. Air Force Academy
Gregor M. Novak, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Physics- U.S. Air Force Academy

The literature on college teaching has been enhanced by a shift from teacher centered activity--primarily lecturing and presentation skills--to what the student does (Barr & Tagg, 1995). The emphasis shifted to understanding, active and collaborative learning, technology, assessment, and practices informed by faculty research in their disciplines. Since much of the responsibility for learning is up to the students, teachers enhance learning by helping students to improve their study skills and to develop metacognitive thinking rather than changing the teaching performance (Angelo and Cross, 1993). The educational construct known as ""time on task"" holds that focused study time increases student learning. Out-of-class assignments increase student study time and structure student learning. One way to set high expectations is to demand serious effort on out-of-class assignments. The advent of the web technology in the late 90''s created an environment in which students have access to around the clock support structure that was unthinkable in the pre-internet era.

In the 1 ½ hour session at this meeting we examine some creative uses of the web to support classroom teaching and learning with in-depth attention given to the Just-in-Time Teaching strategy, JiTT, developed by the presenters and their colleagues over the past seven years (Novak et. al., 1999). JiTT is used in over 200 courses, in all SMET and several humanities disciplines at over 80 institutions. The key feature of JiTT is the creation of a feedback loop between in-class and out-of-class learning. The pre-class warmup exercise prepares for the student-faculty interaction. This timely activity breaks down the student-faculty and student-student anonymity barrier, a feature of particular importance in a large enrollment classes.

Recently we have extended the loop to include post-instruction web-based assignments which attempt to help students master the learning process as well as the subject matter content. The technique has been developed in the introductory physics courses (N = 500) at the U.S. Air Force Academy. An interesting feature of the approach is that it the electronic assignments not only deal with the subject matter, but also attempt, with considerable success, to promote the development of meta-cognitive skills, often ignored in traditional instruction. Many students work on these assignments in our EI (extra instruction) classroom which is open (and staffed by a faculty member) every day. Student responses and direct faculty experiences in the EI room inform and motivate subsequent pre-instruction warm-up assignments and subsequent lesson plans.

With hands-on examples from physics and other science disciplines we will illustrate the JiTT approach, which is applicable in all learning situations. The participants will leave the session with a set of start-up tools to take to their own classrooms.


Angelo, T. and Cross. K. P. (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Barr, R., & Tagg, J. (1995). From teaching to learning: A new paradigm for undergraduate education. Change, 27(6), 13-25.

Donald, J. (2002). Learning to Think: Disciplinary Perspectives. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.

Novak, Gregor M., Patterson, Evelyn T., Gavrin, Andrew D., and Christian, Wolfgang. (1999). Just-in-Time Teaching: Blending Active Learning with Web Technology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.