Communicating Concepts
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Socratic Lecture
Socratic Method of Approaching the Organization of a Lecture<>
       The Socratic Method is one of the oldest and most powerful approaches to teaching and developing critical thinking skills. The method aims to provoke a deeper understanding of any subject matter. Basically, you must question everything and leave no possibility untouched.

       The Socratic Method is named for Socrates, a philosopher who lived in Athens around 470 B.C. Socrates gained fame for frequently engaging others in conversations that attempted to define broad ideas such as beauty, virtue, justice, courage, temperance and friendship by discussing their ambiguities and complexities. During his conversations, Socrates placed himself in the position of student, forcing his respondents to act in the role of teacher.

       In the Socratic Method, the questioner takes a subordinate role, one of seeking knowledge. This is very important, as it lets defenses fall, and provides a comfort level that allows the questioner and respondent speak freely and openly. The method relies on a genuine modesty in the questioner. Attitudes of humility and shared goals keep the questioner and the respondent from becoming opponents.

       The Socratic Method begins with the questioner asking the respondent a question such as “What is beauty?” Once the respondent replies, the questioner then asks the respondent a series of purposeful questions that lead the respondent to reply with an answer that proves their original answer to “What is beauty” false. Once the respondent becomes aware that their original answer is invalid, the questioner then asks again, “What is beauty?” Removing the respondents confidence that they have a clear understanding of beauty readies the respondent to think critically.

       The true purpose of the Socratic Method is not to define beauty, or justice, or any other complex subject, but rather to improve human beings by increasing their understanding. The method uses your own words to convince you that you know less than you originally thought. When less sure, you are forced to open your mind to various possibilities you had not considered.

       Answering questions that lead you to a discovery of either the answer or a new way of thinking gives you a rewarding sense of efficacy that can improve your confidence as well. Rather than simply being told how or what to think, the Socratic Method allows you to think for yourself. This unique ability to find your own way is gratifying and fulfilling; most importantly, it is lasting.

 Source - wiseGEEK

Socratic teaching in the Lecture Room
Ed Friedlander MD


  1. An extremely active and meaningful discussion. Students will walk out feeling good.
  2. A clinical focus without forcing students to memorize anything.
  3. The exercise must bring together multidisplines. The students should have a bit of knowledge of each for the exercise to be a success. Gaps in the their knowledge get filled automatically.
  4. Most learners prefer this method to rote memorizing.
  5. Students will judge the instructor by the interactive portions of their lectures.


    1. <>PowerPoint is not useful.
    2. <>It drives "Notepool" crazy.
    3. The faculty must be knowledgeable.
    4. A real blackboard, computer drawing tablet with stylist or a presenter with good touch typing skills.
    5. <>< style="font-weight: bold;">Teacher or presenter must know how to get students to talk and engage them in answering open-ended questions.
    6. Students will ask if  "Will this class session be covered in test questions?"
      The Socratic Method demands that students come to class well prepared. Compelling them to think out their arguments in advance and to answer their peers’ questions and counter-arguments. This method sharpens a student's powers of reason, analysis, and articulation which are fundamental skills necessary for success in any discipline or profession.

Traditional Lectures, Socratic Method and Student Lectures: Which One do the Students Prefer?


Background: Traditional lectures are still the most popular instructional method in the universities. This paper aimed to report the effects of traditional lectures, Socratic Method and students' lectures on the students? anxiety, learning satisfaction and exam score.

A quasi-experimental study was conducted on 40 nursing students to assess the effects of three methods. The course content was divided into three sections and each section was taught using a different method. The students? anxiety was assessed at start and at the end of sections. The students? satisfaction and their exam score were evaluated at the end of sections.
Results: Mean exam score of the students was 12.62 for traditional lecture, 14.80 for Socratic Method and 15.10 for the students' lectures. The students learning satisfaction was higher at the end of Socratic Method and students' lectures method. Traditional lectures induced the least anxiety while the Socratic Method induced the most.

Socratic Method and students' lectures are more preferred by the students. Level of the students' anxiety could be diminished through more preparations.

       The present study showed that the students? scores were higher in the two methods of "Socratic Method" and "students' lectures" than the traditional teacher's lecture method. This finding indicates that the students? learning was more in these two methods than the traditional lectures.

       In recent years several researchers have compared lectures and more active teaching methods. Conflicting results then were reported. For example, some researchers have reported that no significant differences were observed between the students? scores in traditional lectures versus active methods like working in small groups and multimedia or computer assisted teaching methods (Jeffries et al. 2003, McDonald 2003, Salimi et al. 2007).

      However, some other investigators have indicated that the students? scores in nursing and other fields were higher when they were taught using problem based learning, group discussions or role playing, than groups taught with traditional lectures (Johnson & Mighten 2005, Hazavehei & Taghdisi 2006, Dehkordi 2008). Consequently, we can conclude that the more active teaching methods can bring more effective learning than traditional lectures.

       Scientists in education see learning as a process of actively exploring information and formation of meaning by linking it to previous knowledge and experience (Alesandrini & Larson 2002). Accordingly, the teachers are encouraged not to teach the contents but to teach the students how to learn (Palmer 2003). Hence, students' participation in the education/learning process and substitution of self-directed learning opportunities for the traditional lecture are being emphasized (Glenn 2000).

       It is believed that such engagement will deepen the students? understanding of the course material, will encourages them to assume a major responsibility in the learning process, will help them improve their intellectual, interpersonal and team work skills, will improve their ability and skills to search, obtain, and organize information, will improve their ability to identify and solve problems and will help them set the foundation for life-long learning (Wilke 2003, O?Shea 2003, Debessay & Lerner 2004, Joyce et al. 2005).
In the present study, the teacher's lecture method induced the least anxiety while Socratic Method induced the most. The student's lectures induced moderate anxiety.

       The significant difference between the students? anxiety scores at the beginning of the three methods can be referred to the students? confrontation with new expectations. Despite the apparent advantages of question and answer method, some researches indicated that students do not like to become involved in this manner (Hodges & Harvey 2002). This finding is relatively consistent with our study and possibly refers the facts that the classroom environment and speaking in public can induce feelings such as evaluation apprehension (the fear of negative evaluation by other group members) and social anxiety (Elliott 2005, Wilson 2005).

       Some reports have shown that students? inactivity in traditional teacher-centered classes would make them bored and exhausted that consequently would decrease their concentration and learning and finally would result in their absence from the classroom (Fasihi-Harandi et al. 2007). Conversely high levels of anxiety could also negatively affect one's ability to endure, concentrate, perceive and to learn (Jegede 2007).

       Our results showed that the students? satisfaction has increased by increasing their involvement in teaching/learning activities. Other studies have indicated that most of students prefer active teaching methods and in their view, good teachers are the ones who encourage the students? involvement in teaching/learning activities (Salsali 2005, Abu-Moghli et al. 2005, Coleman et al. 2001, Jeffries et al. 2003).

Source - Webmed Central

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Classroom Control

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Small Groups



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