Paula Dawson

Primary Teacher

St. Patrick's Primary Coatbridge

  • Cooperative Learning

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


Assessment is a fundamental part of learning and teaching and if the quality of formative assessments were to improve, then this would lead to higher standards of work in the classroom (Black and William, 2005). Almuntasheri (2016) suggests that the use of assessments, both formative and summative, is a crucial element in the development of children and their learning. Thanks to the Assessment is for Learning initiative (AifL) there are many various forms of assessment being used throughout schools today. Marshall and William (2006) state that it is imperative for children to let their teachers’ know how they are coping with their work and to identify areas that they may be struggling with.

The issue that I had in my classroom was that my pupils’ were all incredibly keen to speak out in class and answer all the questions that I asked. The majority of the children raised their hand immediately after I had finished asking a question, with some children putting their hand up before I had even finished speaking, yet the quality of answers were not of a high standard. The idea of whether a teacher increasing the wait time between asking a question and it being answered would increase the quality of answers received is one that has been discussed for many years (Stahl, 1994, Rowe, 1986). The concept of ‘wait times’ was introduced as far back as 1972 by Mary Budd Rowe and we are still discussing the issue today in 2019.


The aim of this enquiry was to investigate whether a greater period of time for the children to think of how to answer a question would increase their quality of answers. Similarly, the use of ‘exit passes’ would be introduced to establish whether the pupils’ increased their standard of responses when they were delivering their feedback via a different medium.

Download Practitioner Enquiry