An investigation of the teacher behavior of wait-time



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This study was designed to investigate the non-verbal teacher behavior of wait-time. Wait-time is the silence in a conversation following a teacher or student utterance. Specific forms of wait-time were defined as follows: (1) Teacher Reaction Wait-Time—silence after a student utterance and before a teacher utterance, (2) Student Reaction Wait-Time—silence after a teacher utterance and before a student utterance, (3) Teacher Initiated Wait-Time—silence between student utterances, (4) Student Initiated Wait-Time—silence between teacher utterances. The primary purpose of the investigation was to document some of the behavioral and cognitive effect of wait-time and to delineate the interrelationships between the various forms of wait-time. Specifically, increased Teacher Reaction Wait-Time was expected to (1) increase the incidence of student-to-student interactions, (2) increase inferences made by students, (3) increase student suggestions for testing inferences, (4) increase student questions, (5) equalize the verbal involvement across students, (6) increase Anderson's mean fundamental coefficient of commonality, (7) decrease the incidence of Student Initiated Wait-Times, (8) increase the length of Student Initiated Wait-Times, (9) increase the length of Student Reaction Wait-Times, (10) increase the length of Teacher Initiated Wait-Times, (11) increase the difference TRWT-TIWT, and (12) increase the incidence of student initiated statements. The secondary purpose of the investigation was to investigate the expected inverse relationship between teacher scores on the Pupil Control Ideology Form and duration of natural Teacher Reaction Wait-Time. Pre-service teachers were administered the PCI Form and were videotaped while teaching inner city elementary school children. The teachers' natural wait-times were measured using the videotape. Later, these teachers were trained to use Teacher Reaction Wait-Times of about 0.5 seconds and 2.0 seconds. Twenty teachers were each asked to instruct small groups of four junior high school students using an inquiry science lesson. Teachers were randomly assigned to use the shorter or longer wait-times. Students were randomly assigned to the small groups. The lessons were tape recorded, the wait-times measured, and the incidence of the product variables noted. In order to take into account a probable lack of independence between product variables a test of difference between Wait and No-wait teacher-student groups on the basis of seven product variables, taken simultaneously, was performed. It was found that with increase Teacher Reaction Wait-Time (1) the incidence of student-to-student interactions increased and (2) student inferences decreased. In order to accommodate the probable dependence among the various forms of wait-time, and furthermore, explore the idea that some types of wait-times are teacher controlled whereas others are student controlled, a factor analysis of the data was performed. Two factors were identified: 'Teacher Controlled Silence' and 'Student Controlled Silence'. The estimated factor scores for the first of these two factors were found to have a correlation of 0.7 with Teacher Reaction Wait-Time, using the Spearman rank-order correlation coefficient. It was found that increased Teacher Reaction Wait-Time (1) increases the length of Student Initiated Wait-Times, (2) increases the length of Teacher Initiated Wait-Times, (3) increases the difference TRWT-TIWT, and (4) increases student initiated statements. Additional findings showed a decrease of student interruptions and a decrease of student utterances which were replies to teacher directives.