Eilish Brand


Chryston High

  • Assessment For Learning

The Use of “Thinking Time” in the Classroom


It is said that teachers ask approximately 300 questions a day (Hastings, 2003) and asking questions is an important part of teaching. Previous research has shown that although students require more thinking time only teachers wait, on average, one second before calling on a student and a further one second before either prompting rephrasing or redirecting the question (Rowe, 1974). This provides pupils with little to no time to create and construct a well-thought out answer. Therefore for pupils to provide more complex answers then they must be given sufficient time to think (Wragg & Brown, 1993). The Scottish Government (2009) propose that we as teachers are responsible for nurturing responsible citizens, successful learners, effective contributors and confident individuals whilst engaging pupils in a thinking process that encourages them to challenge perceptions.

There are certain issues identified in various literature that need to be considered when utilising thinking time. One such example comes form William (2011) who argues that certain types of questions such as knowledge and recall questions will not be suited to wait time. Knowledge and recall questions rely on pupils knowing the answer prior to the question being asked and if the answer is unknown then thinking time only prolongs the anxious thinking process.

Tobin (1987) suggests that thinking time is the duration of pauses between the questions being asked and the answer being given through verbal interaction. Estes (2004) however instructs that the thinking time is not just directly linked to verbal interaction between teacher and pupil but also between pupil-and-pupil and individual written. In my own classroom I observed that the same pupils were offering answers to questions and wished to rectify this. Implementing the use of thinking time in my classroom and practice would hopefully produce more varied pupil response.


The aim of this enquiry was to identify and optimum thinking time that would generate the most responses from pupils. The enquiry would investigate the optimum time in relation to the highest number of responses from pupils whilst also monitoring the quality of the answers to provide a well-rounded and more thorough investigation.

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