If you conduct workshops with students, here’s a bit of research that can help you take your questioning techniques to a higher level.
Research by Mary Budd Rowe at Columbia University found that the average amount of time a teacher waits between asking a question and calling on a student to answer is one second. When wait-time is very short like this, students have little time to think about their response. They tend to give short answers or are prone to say, “I don’t know.” However, when “wait-time” or “think-time” (teachers waiting while students think) is extended to between three and five seconds, the student outcomes are remarkable:
- The length of students’ responses increase.
- The number of students’ “I don’t know” and no answer responses decreases.
- The number of volunteered, appropriate answers by larger numbers of students greatly increases.
There are actually two crucial periods for wait-time/think-time. The first is after you pose a question. The second is after a student responds to your question. The first wait-time interval is important to allow students to consider a question and formulate a response. The second wait-time interval is crucial to encouraging that student to continue his/her response or for another student to extend the idea.
Suggestion: the next time you do a workshop, record it. When you play it back, document the questions you asked and how long you waited for a response from the students. How’d you do on “wait-time”? Do you need to give students more time to think?