David Sharpe


Greenfaulds High

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


Questioning, and implementing strategies around questioning, is an extremely important aspect to teaching. Implementing such strategies can elicit deeper learning and promote confidence in pupils as well as possibly deter them from answering altogether if used poorly. Tobin (1987) stated that the perfect amount of wait time was 3 seconds. He stated that if any longer was given it would have no positive effect on pupil responses and that it would actually impede learning. Stahl (1990), however, asserts that the average teacher does not allow proper or beneficial ‘wait-time’ before expecting an answer. In fact, Rowe (1986) states that the average teacher only waits a second or less for a response to a question. This wait time is even less if they perceive that the pupil does not know the answer. This small amount of wait time seems to have a more detrimental effect to teaching and learning, leading to fewer volunteered/higher-level answers. It stands to reason then that in order for a child to have collated their thoughts into a higher-level answer, they would therefore need the appropriate wait time. This then led to the belief that both the quality and quantity of pupil answers would be increased through the proper use of wait time during questioning. The rationale for this enquiry was built upon the initial stimulus of these findings


The purpose of this enquiry was to use and extend ‘Wait Time’ within the classroom setting and summarise the impact this had on teaching and learning in terms of:

  • The quality of pupil’s answers
  • If the number of volunteers changed
  • If pupil’s confidence differed.
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