Jonah Schumacher

Return to: ETAP 623 Fall 2020 (Zhang) | Fostering Critical Thinking Skills using the Socratic Method

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About Me

I am pursuing the MS in CDIT to gain the skills to design and implement courses related to philosophy, to help make the discipline more accessible to students and teachers. After completing the CDIT program, I hope to pursue philosophy at the graduate level and plan on putting my instructional design skills to good use.

Outside of those goals, I am an avid runner, reader, and traveler. Last spring, I ran a half marathon and have plans on running a full this coming spring and I have one more book to go to finish all of Pynchon's writings. As an undergrad, I spent semesters abroad in Germany and China studying social work and Mandarin respectively.

My Topic/Purpose

The purpose of this course is to introduce teachers to the Socratic Method as a way to help foster critical thinking in the classroom.

Topics that will be covered in this course will include:

1) Why it is valuable to teach using the Socratic Method

2) An overview of the three parts of the Socratic Method

3) An example of the Socratic Method in action

4) Suggestions on how to implement the Socratic Method in various classroom settings

Needs Assessment


Critical thinking (CT) skills are integral for success in and out of school. Promoting higher-level thinking and CT is often a focus at all levels of education in every discipline (Karami et al. 2012). In addition to the benefits of academic success, CT skills are necessary to thrive in the current pluralist, information-saturated world. One must be able to work and engage with others, teach themselves new skills, and be able to make rational decisions as well as quickly determine the validity of arguments and information one finds on the internet. (Vieira et al. 2011).

CT is a buzzword in education and business (Nappi. 2017). Despite the significance placed on the term, there still seems to be room to improve in this area of education as identified by the quote,

  • “One of the obstacles is the fact that teachers do not have a clear idea about critical thinking because the meaning ascribed to critical thinking in different contexts is rarely explicit.” (Vieira et al. 2011. P. 43).

If educators are uncertain about specific modes or qualities of CT then it would be difficult for them to pass these coveted skills on to students.

The purpose of this course is to introduce educators to one of the oldest, most versatile, and easily implemented ways to foster CT skills: the Socratic method.

What is to be Learned

Throughout the course, one will become familiar with the purpose and process of the Socratic method. Once one has an understanding of this method, suggestions of how one can implement the method in different settings will be discussed (such as f2f and asynchronous).

The Learners

Though this course will be targeting educators of all levels of academia (though K-12 educators may specifically draw more benefit). Anyone looking to gain a new perspective has the potential to gain from this course. The Socratic method can also be adapted and applied to every discipline.

Learner Analysis

Learners will likely mostly consist of K-12 educators who wish to foster CT skills in their classrooms. No prior knowledge of the Socratic method is necessary to benefit from the course, however should one wish to teach the method, prior educational experience would be advantageous.

Context for Instruction

This course will be delivered online making access to the internet necessary. A computer, laptop, or tablet would be best, as some resources may not translate well on mobile devices.

Performance Objectives

Overall Course Objective:

Those who complete the course will be able to make use of the Socratic Method in their own courses.

Objectives completed along the way to achieving the course objective:

1) Explain how the Socratic Method fosters critical thinking.

2) Evaluate whether a situation may be suited for implementing the Socratic Method.

3) Be able to distinguish the different elements of the Socratic Method.

Task Analysis

There are no prerequisites for this course, other than the willingness to learn!

Unit 1: An Introduction to Socratic Method

In this unit, learners will:

• Compare ancient and modern examples of the Socratic Method.

• Attempt to recognize and explain the function of the Socratic Method in the examples.

Unit 2: The Socratic Method: Step-by-Step

In this unit, learners will:

• Be able to outline the steps of the Socratic Method.

• Learn how to formulate the right questions.

Unit 3: How can I use the Socratic Method in my classroom?

In this unit, learners will:

• Synthesize previous units’ information with pedagogy in mind.

• Experiment with developing plans to use the Socratic Method in the classroom.

Curriculum Map

References and Resources

Morteza Karami, Hamideh Pakmehr, Alireza Aghili. (2012). Another View to Importance of Teaching Methods in Curriculum: Collaborative Learning and Students’ Critical Thinking Disposition. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, Volume 46, Pages 3266-3270, ISSN 1877-0428,

Nappi, Judith S. (2017). The Importance of Questioning in Developing Critical Thinking Skills. The Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin. Vol. 84-1.30-42.

Vieira, Rui Marques; Tenreiro-Vieira, Celina; Martins, Isabel P. Critical Thinking: Conceptual Clarification and Its Importance in Science Education. Science Education International, v22 n1 p43-54 Mar 2011.

Whiteley, Rick T. (2006). Using the Socratic Method and Bloom’s Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain to Enhance Online Discussion, Critical Thinking, and Student Learning. Developments in Business Simulation and Experiential Learning, Vol.33.