Listen in on many classrooms at all levels, and you’ll probably hear teachers asking question after question. With so many questions coming at them, students have little time to think. Looking at it another way: the more questions that are asked, the less thinking occurs. Classroom observations reveal that teachers typically wait less than 1 second for students to respond to a question. Teachers often conclude that students don’t know the answer to a question if they don’t respond quickly. And when they do respond, they usually use knowledge-level responses.
Classroom observations also reveal that if a student manages to get a response in, most teachers tend to ask another question within an average time span of 9⁄10 of a second!
Is this a problem? Yes! But here’s an interesting solution: increase the time between asking a question and having students respond to that question from the typical 1 second to 5 seconds. This is known as wait time. Believe it or not, this simple act produces significant and profound changes in the classroom, including:
- The length of student responses increases 400 to 800 percent.
- The number of unsolicited but appropriate responses increases.
- Failure to respond decreases.
- Student confidence increases.
- Students ask more questions.
- Student achievement increases significantly.
Wait Time is the period of silence between the time a question is asked and the time when one or more students respond to that question. For many students identified with a disability, wait time is a critical strategy to use to increase student engagement, student processing of content, and positive student success.
(Casteel and Stahl, 1973; Rowe 1972; Stahl 1990; Tobin 1987).
(I would be willing to bet this is true for adults as well!) See Below:Importance of Wait Time