David McKillop

Primary Teacher

Carbrain Primary

  • Assessment For Learning

What happens when wait-time is used during questioning in the classroom?


Teachers ask up to two questions per minute, 400 per day and 70,000 per year (Hastings, 2003). Questioning is an effective teaching method embedded in the practice of all educational professionals. However, research has shown that teachers only give an average of 0.7-1.4 seconds for a pupil to provide an answer (Stahl, 1994). This professional inquiry will answer what happens when wait-time is used during questioning in the classroom.


The purpose of this inquiry was to introduce varied lengths of wait-time during questioning to:

  • measure the impact on pupils ability to provide answers
  • measure the impact on the accuracy of answers provided by pupils.

The initial aim after introducing varied wait times was to measure the impact of pupils simply providing an answer, not concerning the answer. If a pupil is correct then their self-esteem is raised, identified as an effective way to promote success in ‘Raising Achievement for All’ (North Lanarkshire Council, 1998-2017). If a pupil is wrong then we might assume the common idea that “we learn from our mistakes.” However, Cyr and Anderson proved this statement to be correct in a study on questioning in education, with learners in a test recalling more answers that they answered incorrectly than correctly (Kornell, 2014). Yet, the second aim was to see if varying wait-time does impact the accuracy of answers given as ability to provide correct answers will benefit pupils throughout education.

Download Practitioner Enquiry