Louise Wilson

Primary Teacher

Cumbernauld Primary School

  • Bloom's Taxonomy

What happens when wait time is used when asking questions in the classroom?


Research shows that although students need more time to think teachers wait only approximately one second before calling on a student and one second before probing the response, rephrasing the question, redirecting to another student, or providing the answer (Rowe 1974). Previous studies shows that under these conditions students generally give short, recall responses or no answer at all rather than giving answers that involve higher-level thinking. Studies beginning in the early 1970s and continuing through the 1980s show that if teachers pause between three and seven seconds after asking higher- level questions, students respond with more thoughtful answers and achievement is increased (Swift & Gooding, 1983;Tobin, 1986; Mansfield, 1996).

Rowe (1974) described that the students are more involved in classroom discourse: their responses are longer and on a higher cognitive level when given efficient time to think after a question is posed. As a result I was interested in investigating if additional wait time was introduced did it have an impact on the number of volunteers, quality of answers, level of thinking and importance of how long the think time should be.


The aim of this investigation was to find out what happened when pupils were given additional wait time after a question. The investigation would examine the length and quality of answers as wait time was increased. Being carried out during reading lessons with Blooms Buttons, question cards using Bloom’s taxonomy language and questioning, the investigation would determine if the additional wait time developed the ability to answer higher order thinking questions from only lower order thinking questions. Alongside this the impact of increased wait time on the number of volunteers to answer higher order thinking questions and if there was any change in the pupil’s confidence in answering these questions would be identified.

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