Nurse educators encounter unique challenges in covering more information when teaching new nursing concepts. There is overwhelming evidence from research regarding the best practices essential in improving provision of social care services to patients. Lecturers and educators cannot be able to cover a good deal of essential information needed for nursing practice by simply focusing on their own content delivery models. As such, educators need approaches that help nurse students to develop excellent reasoning skills and encourage life-long learning. Socratic reasoning is a teaching technique anchored on disciplined, vigorous and thoughtful dialogue. Socratic questioning allows an instructor to admit ignorance regarding a topic under discussion to foster an engaging dialogue with the learners. Named after Socrates, a Greek philosopher, Socratic questioning empowers nurses to sufficiently examine ideas logically and evaluate the validity of concepts put across during a learning process. Socratic questioning often appears difficult because of intense rigorous dialogue involved. However, nurse educators have developed learning habits of correcting possible misconceptions relating different topics and ideas to foster a reliable knowledge construction process.
Although Socratic questioning may appear simple, it is indeed difficult and extends beyond asking normal or usual questions. The intense rigorous nature of the dialogue between nurse educators and learners makes it a complex technique of teaching. As described in the teachings of Socrates, a nurse educator pretends to be ignorant about a given subject or idea to acquire extensive knowledge from his or her students (Davies & Sinclair, 2014). The learners face the challenges of recognizing contradictions, and thereby address incomplete or inaccurate ideas during the process of disciplined questioning. The higher-level thinking skills required for Socratic questioning typically makes it difficult. Per Fey & Jenkins (2015), the learning process is challenging because learners are expected to think, discuss, evaluate debate and logically analyze concepts. As such, learners who are incapable of thinking critically may experience varied learning difficulties. Despite being a difficult endeavor, Socratic reasoning leads to progressive discovery of fundamental truths with absolute accuracy.
Nurse educators have looked for ways to develop habits of promoting Socratic questioning as a new approach imparting knowledge. Per Bavier (2016), the habit can be developed if the educator acts as the role model and respects divergent opinions of the trainees. In addition, the habit of fostering Socratic questioning can thrive if nurse educators fundamentally probe learners’ understanding and show genuine interest in supporting their thinking capabilities. Moreover, a nurse educator can enhance learning by posing meaningful queries that encourage amateur learners to participate in engaging dialogue. Bavier (2016) contends, intellectual habit of Socratic questioning thrives well in learning environments where educators sustain intellectual reasoning and acknowledges the contributions of each learner. In the consequence, Socratic questioning can be sustained if nurse trainers plan significant queries that provide logical learning directions. In addition, nurse educators can develop the habit by clearly and specifically phrasing questions to learners without ambiguity. Furthermore, educators can grant learners adequate wait-time to allow them think and respond to questions. Besides, Socratic questioning sessions should be focused and encourage as many students as possible to participate in discussions and engaging dialogue.
Socratic questioning allows nurse educators to ask open-ended questions that undoubtedly creates room for critical thinking. As a result, Socratic questioning continues to allow nurse lecturers to address the challenges presented by research that consistently introduce new information. Potential habits like asking clear questions, providing adequate time for learners to respond to questions, and allowing collaboration among students enhances learning. Despite its difficulty, learners are invariably presented with unique opportunities to think critically and in the process allow nurse educators to identify learning gaps that can be bridged.
Bavier, A. (2016). Education’s why: Debriefing as how. Nursing Education Perspectives, 37(1), 1.
Davies, M. & Sinclair, A. (2014). Socratic questioning in the paideia method to encourage dialogical discussions. Res Pap Educ, 29, 20-44.
Fey, M. & Jenkins, L. (2015). Debriefing practices in nursing education programs: Results from a national study. Nursing Education Perspectives, 36(6), 361-366.