"Just in Time" Response Papers

Overview: Students submit response papers immediately prior to attending class with the goal of increased preparedness for discussion.

Goal: Prime students for discussion in junior tutorial so their minds are fresh.

Introduction/Background: Robert Turley assigned his students ten "just in time" response papers throughout the semester, each of which was due 30 minutes before class, soon enough so that students were primed for class at the start of the session.  This assignment was inspired by the "just in time" movement in manufacturing which involves making operations more efficient by having inputs come together right before being sold, as opposed to waiting around in a warehouse.  "Just in time" teaching similarly gets students ready for class just before class so that their minds are fresh.  


  1.  Before class. Each week send an email a few hours after class with a short response assignment that is due 30 minutes before the next class.  The assignment should ask them to write a paragraph or two that answer specific questions about the reading for the next class. Note: The responses do not have to be great writing; Students are just supposed to get their ideas down.  
  2. Try to email a quick reply to each student’s response paper before class.  
  3. In class. Start class with a discussion of the response paper questions.

Comments:  2/3 of students typically put it off until right before it is due.  This guarantees that for the 30 minutes prior to class, their response papers are still at the top of their heads.  As a result, students come excited and eager to discuss their papers when they arrive at class.

Material/Resources: Here is an example of a response assignment with the corresponding readings for the week:

Example: Response Paper # 5

Most economic models have difficulty explaining participation in lotteries or other forms of gambling. Based on the evidence and arguments in the three readings:

- How can we explain the popularity of gambling? 

- Does it require we reject models where individuals maximize utility?

- Should the government continue to sponsor lotteries to raise revenue?


Thaler, Richard and William T. Ziemba . 1988. “Anomalies: Parimutuel Betting Markets: Racetracks and Lotteries.” The Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 2, No. 2 (Spring, 1988), pp. 161-174 http://www.jstor.org.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/stable/1942856

Hansen, Alicia and Gerald Prante. 2006. “Lottery Taxes Divert Income from Retirement Savings.” Tax Foundation.  http://www.taxfoundation.org/files/ff45.pdf

Burke, Duane V. 1999. “Top Ten Myths About Lottery (And Why They Are Not True).” Public Gaming Research Institute.http://www.publicgaming.org/toptenmyths.html

Submitted by Robert Turley, Economics, for Economics 970 - House and Consumer Finance