Claire McClymont

Primary Teacher

St. Mary's Primary Coatbridge

  • Cooperative Learning

What Effect Does Wait Time Have on Pupil Responses to Questioning?


There has been a significant amount of research into the importance of providing additional thinking time within the classroom. Wait time is the opportunity for thinking time a learner is given when assessing their understanding of something. However, it has been suggested that the average teacher will allow just ‘0.968 of a second’ wait time after asking a question (Gambrell. 1983). Research by Tobin (1987), suggested that if the additional thinking time is greater than three seconds it will result in a higher cognitive learning level, by allowing the learner more time to process the question and recall the information. In addition, research by Stahl (1994), agreed that to achieve successful learners there should be a wait time higher than three seconds. It has also been recognised that if the learner is participating in various types of Assessment is For Learning (AIfL) strategies then it will have a positive impact on the attitude and enthusiasm to demonstrate their understanding (Gregory G.H. & Chapman C. 2007).


The aim of this enquiry was to determine if the use of additional thinking time led to improved outcomes for pupils. The impact of the use of additional thinking time was measured using the following criteria:

  • The quantity of learners willing to answer.
  • The quality of responses given during questioning.
  • The level of detail provided when using Exit Passes.
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