Leigh Duff

Primary Teacher

Christ The King Primary

  • Assessment For Learning

How Will Increasing Wait Time After Questioning Affect Pupil Responses?


Assessment strategies are used in all classrooms, so much so that the principles of Assessment is for Learning (AFL) are built within the structure of the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE, 2008). In class, teachers can ask up to 2 questions per minute, 400 per day and 70,000 per year. This accounts for one third of teaching time, and on average teachers wait around 1 second for an answer (Hastings, 2003). It is likely that pupil response is low and the same children answer questions when asked (Wiliam, 2014). Wait time is defined as “the period of silence between the time a question is asked and the time when one or more students respond to that question” (Teacher Vision, 2018).

Rowe (1974) studied this further and found that teachers think that they wait for a significant period of time and give children enough time to form an appropriate response, when in actual fact they wait for less than a second for a response before reframing the question, asking someone else or giving the answer. She suggests that a more positive Bayesian approach to questioning; which is based on a process of evidence building over time; alongside increasing wait time for children will not only produce a higher response rate, but also help children to develop higher cognitive level thinking skills which will produce more quality answers and deepen the learning.

For these reasons, this enquiry will focus on increasing wait time in the primary classroom to see what affect this would have on pupil response.


The aim of this professional enquiry is to observe the affect that increasing wait time within a primary classroom setting will have on pupil response. This will focus on whole class responses in terms of number of children wanting to answer, the quality of answers given and also how the children felt being given longer wait time.

Download Practitioner Enquiry