Some stunning findings into the power of questioning and especially on what is called ‘Wait Time’. In particular:

  • The average wait-time teachers allow after posing a question is one second or less.

  • Students whom teachers perceive as slow or poor learners are given less wait-time than those teachers view as more capable.

  • For lower cognitive questions, a wait-time of three seconds is most positively related to achievement, with less success resulting from shorter or longer wait-times.

  • There seems to be no wait-time threshold for higher cognitive questions; students seem to become more and more engaged and perform better and better the longer the teacher is willing to wait.

Increasing wait-time beyond three seconds is positively related to the following student outcomes:

  1. Improvements in the student achievement
  2. Improvements in student retention, as measured by delayed tests
  3. Increases in the number of higher cognitive responses generated by students
  4. Increases in the length of student responses
  5. Increases in the number of unsolicited responses 
  6. Decreases in students’ failure to respond
  7. Increases in the amount and quality of evidence students offer to support their inferences
  8. Increases in contributions by students who do not participate much when wait-time is under three seconds
  9. Expansion of the variety of responses offered by students
  10. Decreases in student interruptions
  11. Increases in student-student interactions
  12. Increases in the number of questions posed by students

Increasing wait-time beyond three seconds is positively related to the following teacher outcomes:

  1. in flexibility of teacher responses, with teachers listening more and engaging students in more discussions
  2. Increases in teacher expectations regarding students usually thought of as slow
  3. Expansion of the variety of questions asked by teachers
  4. Increases in the number of higher cognitive questions asked by teachers. 
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, when you teach (and talk) less, they learn more.

 

 

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