John Tamburrini

Physical Education

St. Aidan's High

  • Assessment For Learning

The Use of “Thinking Time” in the Classroom


Stahl (1994) investigated classroom practices around questioning at the time and found that while “wait time” and “think time” were widely used terms, on average a teacher waited between 0.8 seconds and 1.4 seconds after posing a question before breaking the silence and looking for answers from pupils, or answering the question themselves. Black et al. (2004) commented that when pupils are questioned and not given time to prepare an answer it results in “short memorised facts and answers”. The aforementioned Stahl study showed however that when “think time” was increased to 3 seconds, there were positive impacts on the depth of answer and understanding through the class. Rowe (1986) suggested that with additional thinking time pupils will be more likely to volunteer answers and engage with the topic. As a group we decided to look at this due to the variety of questioning techniques which were taking place through a variety of curricular areas and environments and look at how such think time within lessons could further engage pupils with their learning and increasing the depth of knowledge and understanding in the classroom. We also wanted to look at the impact of the length of think time and how this could change the depth of understanding and quality of answers across classes.


The aims of this study were:

  1. To investigate how introducing think time when posing questions using different questioning techniques could impact on pupils’ perception of knowledge and understanding and the depth of their answers.
  2. To investigate how long think time should be when posing questions.
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