Think Time notes

Here is the article that inspired me to give this presentation.

Stahl, Robert J. “Using “Think-Time” Skillfully in the Classroom.” Using “Think-Time” and “Wait-Time” Skillfully in the Classroom. ERIC Digest. ERIC Document Reproduction Service, 1 May 1994. Web. 05 Feb. 2013. <;.


Here are the notes I used to build my powerpoint. I hope they are helpful if you missed the conference.

The concepts of “wait time” as an instructional variable was invented by Mary Budd Rowe (1972).  Stahl (1985) more recently constructed “think time,”  as a more academic label for this time. It names the purpose of this time for student to have uninterrupted time to complete cognitive tasks needed


In her research she found that the time of silence that followed a teacher question and the completed response rarely lasted more than 1.5 seconds.


When that time was extended to 3 seconds, there were many benefits for both teacher and student.


When “think time”  was 3 or more  seconds she saw the following positive outcomes….


  • The length and correctness of their responses increased
  • The number of their “I don’t know” and no answer responses decreased.
  • The number of volunteered, appropriate answers by larger numbers of students greatly increased


When teachers wait patiently in silence for 3 or more seconds at appropriate places, the following positive changes in their own teacher behavior also occur…


  • Their questioning strategies tend to be more varied and flexible.
  • They decrease the quantity and increase the quality and variety of their questions
  • They ask additional questions that require more complex information processing and higher-level thinking on the part of the students.



Six Types of “Think Time”


Post-Teach Question Think Time: The time after a well constructed question is asked. If question imprecise, the silence leads to confusion and frustration on the part of the student.


Within-Student Response Think Time: Allows a student to start a question, pause and restart without interruption by the teacher or other students.


Post-Student Response Think Time: Allows other students to think about what has been said and decide if they want to offer their thoughts. This in needed if you are looking for true interactive discussions among your students.


Teacher Pause Time:  Allows the teacher to think about what to say next and for students  to process what has been said by the teacher or another student previously. This is also helpful when a student asks for clarification or further explanation.


Student Task-Completion Work-Time: A period of time 3-5 seconds, or more (15,30, 45, 60, 90) seconds or 2 minutes that allows students to complete a short or lengthy academic task with uninterrupted silence. The time depends on the task.


Impact Pause-Time: is when 3-5 second or more of silence is needed create a particular mood, or affective environment (mood, anticipation, drama, suspense or uncertainty).  The other use is to allow student to consider and internally respond to a rhetorical question you have asked, before continuing with additional information.




How to Build “Think Time” into your classroom:


Be deliberate; tell the students that you will give them time to think after your questions and theirs.


Take a drink of water/coffee from a cup across the room.


If there are no student responses after five to ten seconds of wait-time, we might want to do one or more of the following:

  • repeat the question;
  • rephrase the question;
  • simplify the question;
  • ask a student to attempt a rephrasing of your question;
  • break the question down into its component parts;
  • make your question more specific;

ask students what it is about the question that they are finding difficult.

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