Response types

The following outlines some typical student response types and some possible ways to reply or restate questions to elicit a different answer or reaction.

No response

  • The question may have been too complex.
  • The classroom may not have been considered a 'safe place' for students to respond.
  • The question may have been mis-heard or not heard at all.


  • Stop this particular line of questioning or the activity (particularly if it is not safe to continue).
  • Save face for the student (e.g. "Perhaps I worded the question in a confusing way; let me rephrase it." Then allow the student to think and/or share with a partner).

Partially correct

  • The question may have been too complex or too long for students to respond
  • Question may have been too open-ended


  • Check for understanding by restating the part still not answered correctly.
  • Acknowledge the parts of the question that were correct.
  • Highlight the correct part, repeat question and ask for additional information relating to that part.

Silly response

  • Student may be embarrassed to answer truthfully in front of others.
  • Student may be attention seeking.


  • Don't react or overreact to the response.
  • Don't put-down the student for their response but rather diffuse the situation by a non-response.
  • Re-state the answer in a positive, 'non-silly' manner to model appropriate responses.


  • Could be considered as a ‘no response'.


  • Allow for a ‘pass' answer at times.
  • Allow time for student to discuss in a group first.
  • Follow up later in a one-to-one situation where understanding can be checked.

Incorrect response

  • Possible that the question was misunderstood.
  • The complexity of the question may have been too confusing or high-level for students.


  • Multiple components can often confuse so break down the question into simpler, smaller contexts or parts.
  • Restate the question in a different way.

Correct response

  • This may be exactly that; a correct response.
  • However, If the question was too easy and a quick correct response is given in a disengaged way it might be necessary to check for understanding through rephrasing and asking a question in a different way.


  • Respond with a simple ‘thank you'.
  • Positive reinforcement.