Effective questioning facilitates useful and effective classroom discussion (Black and Wiliam, 1998) which in turn enhances understanding and develops pupil thinking. However, “[effective] interaction in classrooms involves far more than having good questions” (Black, 2007: 1). Along with good questioning and moving away from searching for correct answers which are provided instantly via a ‘hands up’ strategy (Black, 2007), classroom discussion can be enhanced by increasing wait times after questioning to allow student thinking to deepen (Black and Wiliam, 1998). One way of giving pupils time and space to develop their thinking in response to questioning is the collaborative teaching method known as Think- Pair-Share (TPS).
TPS was first proposed by Professor Frank Lyman at the University of Maryland in 1981. Initially, pupils are given time to think about a question individually. Secondly, pupils share ideas with a partner and develop answers during this time. Finally, pupils feed back to the entire group or class. At each stage, pupils are assessing their answers in a different way. Combining self, peer and teacher assessment through TPS is thought to promote and develop pupil thinking (Bartlett, 2015). Due to the structured nature of TPS, wait time is extended. This has been shown to improve the accuracy and depth of pupil response (Rowe, 1972). Additionally, Raba (2017) found that English as a Foreign Language learners participated more often and were more enthusiastic about joining in classroom discussions when TPS was used in the classroom. Therefore, TPS can also increase pupils’ confidence and encourage them to participate in whole class discussions.
Building the Curriculum 5 outlines how assessment should reflect the principles of Curriculum for Excellence and develop the four capacities in learners. TPS facilitates the development of confident individuals, successful learners, effective contributors and responsible citizens through its collaborative nature and emphasis on reflection and discussion – both key elements of progression in assessment (Education Scotland, online).
This enquiry, therefore, was carried out in order to investigate the effect that TPS would have in the classroom when used in an explicit, structured way.
The aim of this enquiry was to evaluate the impact of TPS on participation in whole class discussions in response to teacher questioning.
Specifically, the enquiry looked into:
- Whether or not using TPS in the classroom would increase the frequency of participation in whole class discussions for an identified group of pupils.
- The use of TPS to challenge every pupil to think and develop their answers through increased wait time.