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Using Just In Time Teaching In Dynamics And In Mechanics Of Materials

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Innovative Teaching Techniques in Mechanics

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1392.1 - 11.1392.14



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Paper Authors


Andrew Szmerekovsky AFIT

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Andrew Szmerekovsky is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Mechanics at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree at The Ohio State University in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering in 1985. He obtained a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering at Wright State University in 1999 and a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering at the Air Force Institute of Technology. He is in his fourth year of teaching in the Department of Engineering Mechanics where he serves as Deputy for Operations and Chief of the Structures Division. His research interests include forced response and steady flow analysis of turbomachinery and hypervelocity gouging on high speed test tracks.

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Brian Self U.S. Air Force Academy

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Brian Self is an Associate Professor of Engineering Mechanics at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He received his B.S. and M.S. in Engineering Mechanics from Virginia Tech and his Ph.D. in Bioengineering at the University of Utah. He has four years of experience with the Air Force Research Laboratory and is in his seventh year of teaching in the Department of Engineering Mechanics. Areas of research include impact injury mechanisms, sports biomechanics, aerospace physiology, and engineering pedagogy.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Using Just-In-Time Teaching in Dynamics and Mechanics of Materials


Over the last 8 years, the physics educational community has developed a new learning strategy known as Just-in-Time Teaching (JiTT). In this approach, students are required to answer short questions posted on the web at least two hours before class. Questions are typically open-ended and conceptual, rather than mathematical. The instructor then reads through the student answers before class and tailors the classroom experience based on student understanding. For new topics, many students will appreciate some aspects of the idea, but different students will grasp different aspects of the subject matter. By presenting the answers from the students in class, the instructor can build up an understanding of the complex idea. In this way, students feel greater ownership of the course, come better prepared to class, and have more productive interactions with the professor. This year, we utilized the technique in two mechanics courses, dynamics and mechanics of materials. Student perceptions of the technique were mixed, depending on the type of implementation and the current workload in the course. Examples of the use of JiTT in these courses are presented and a framework for applying the techniques to mechanics is described. The instructors were pleased with how JiTT provoked student thought, and the authors provide some insight into their own workload requirements when using JiTT.


Instructors constantly seek new ways to engage their students, make them consider real world applications of engineering, and gain conceptual understanding of engineering. Just-in-Time Teaching (JiTT) can be used to facilitate these goals, and increase the quality of classroom discussion. First, we will provide an introduction to the basic components of JiTT and its underlying educational theories. Some examples of mechanics modules that were used in class, representative answers, and how the instructor modified the lesson as a result of the student input are also described. Results from a brief survey will then be presented, and discussed with instructor perceptions of the technique. Finally, references and advice on how to utilize JiTT will be supplied to potential users.

The Just in Time Teaching Approach

JiTT should not be confused with other uses of “Just-in-Time” that is prevalent in engineering literature. Other authors use JIT to represent presenting material just before it will be used, for example in a laboratory exercise or an assigned project. JiTT on the other hand, is a technique used to enhance the interactivity of a lecture period by creating a feedback loop between the instructor and the student.

As discussed in last year’s proceedings1, the JiTT strategy reflects recent efforts in cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, social psychology, anthropology, neuroscience, and education research to better understand how people learn. A recent report by Bransford2 discusses what principles of knowledge organization underlie people’s problem solving capabilities, how people transfer learning in one setting to another, and how these results can be

Szmerekovsky, A., & Self, B. (2006, June), Using Just In Time Teaching In Dynamics And In Mechanics Of Materials Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--647

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