Caitlin McGrath


St. Margaret's High

  • Assessment For Learning

What effects does ‘wait time’ have on pupils’ responses to questioning?


This enquiry seeks to explore the implications of allowing pupils more time to think or “wait” time before accepting an answer. I found it really interesting that it has been shown on average teachers wait less than one second, after posing a question, before taking an answer or intervening themselves (Rowe, 1986, p.43). I was interested in this area as I find that within many of my younger classes in particular, that the same pupils are the ones offering answers all the time. I was particularly interested in testing the effects of increasing my wait time to around 3 seconds based on the research carried out by Tobin (1987) which suggests optimal effects on pupil responses across the class.


The aims of this research were to evaluate the effect of increasing wait time after posing a question to pupils. This is true for both the wait time before accepting an answer (wait time 1) and the wait time after accepting an answer before intervening (wait time 2). This research also sought to explore the various Assessment is for Learning (AifL) methods of encouraging thinking time amongst the pupils by testing various strategies which allow time before answers are offered. This would then be used to evaluate which methods most effect pupil responses in relation to wait time.

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