Aimee Wright


Cumbernauld Academy

  • Assessment For Learning

What Happens When Wait Time is Used in the Classroom?


Wait time is the time that a teacher gives students to generate a response to a question. It was initially discussed by Rowe (1974) and it was found that on average teachers wait 1.5 seconds between question and response. It was found that when wait time was increased to 3 seconds there is a positive improvement to student attitudes.

In addition to wait time being a beneficial tool to support students, Tobin (1987) found wait time also had a positive impact on teachers. Awareness and implementation of longer wait time led to increased variety and flexibility of teacher questioning strategies, which led to an increase in the quality of the questioning within the classroom. If questioning could be positively impacted by increasing wait time, this could lead to raising student attainment in the classroom – a Scottish government priority ( 2011).

This enquiry seeks to explore the impact on pupil participation and opinion of wait time in the classroom and to assess any potential impact of changing wait time.


The aim of the enquiry is to assess the impact of increasing wait time in the secondary classroom. The focus was prepare and deliver questions to students, increasing the wait time per week, allowing student participation to be measured. In addition, pupil opinion of wait time was recorded through using of targeted questions in a survey both before and after the enquiry had taken place.

Download Practitioner Enquiry