Nicola Brown


St. Ambrose High

  • Cooperative Learning

What Effect Does Wait Time Have on Pupil Responses to Questioning?


Wait-time is the time given to pupils after asking a question to allow them to formulate an answer. The concept of wait-time is not a new phenomenon. It was introduced by Rowe in the 1970s, who found that typical wait times in classrooms were negligible. After conducting some research, Rowe found that when wait-time was increased from the typical one second to a minimum of three seconds, pupil responses were of a higher quality and their understanding increased. (Rowe, 1986). Wiliam also noted that wait time was a significant factor in pupil responses to questioning. He noted that for higher order questions, which require more thought, wait time should be increased, because it was found to produce improvements in pupil learning (Wiliam, 2010). Stahl, in 1994, also noted that in order to produce the best response a wait time exceeding 3 seconds was necessary (Stahl, 1994). Black & Wiliam also found that increasing wait-time leads to greater development of learner’s thoughts and reasoning. (Black et al. (2004)). Further research has demonstrated the potential of strategies such as wait-time and think, pair share in improving learners overall communication and listening skills (Brady & Tsay, 2010). It is for these reasons I was interested in conducting my own study into the benefits of increased wait-time.


The aim of this practitioner enquiry was to assess the impact ‘wait time’ had on pupil responses to questioning in the classroom. The focus was to prepare higher order questions relating to texts being studied by the pupils, in order to determine the extent to which the increased wait time impacted on the quality of responses from pupils.

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