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Better Classroom Questioning - Socratic Questioning

Socratic questioning is an extremely powerful questioning technique that teachers can use to explore complex issues and ideas with students, open up common misconceptions and analyse and evaluate topics at a far deeper level than 'normal' questioning.

In essence, Socratic questioning is used to probe student understanding and thinking allowing far greater analysis and evaluation to take place.

Socratic questioning focus purely on the importance of questioning to enhance teaching and learning and the name is derived from Socrates who believed that questioning was the only defensible form of teaching. In Socratic questioning, the teacher uses a range of questions to create active, independent learners.
So, what types of questions can be classified as Socratic questions? 

There are 6 key types of Socratic questions

1: Clarification of a key concept

'Could you explain that answer further?', 'What led you to that judgement?', 'Why did you come to that conclusion?'. 'What made you say that?'

2: Challenging assumptions and misconceptions

'Is there another point of view?', 'Is this always the case?', '

3: Arguments based on evidence

'What evidence do you have to support that view?', 'Is there any other information would help support this?', 'Could we challenge that evidence?',

4: Looking at alternatives

'Did anyone look at this from a different angle/ perspective?', 'Is there an alternative to that point?', 'Could we approach this from a different perspective?'

5: Consequences, implications and analysis

'What are the long-term implications of this?', ' However, what if.......happened?', 'How would ......affect..?'

6: Questioning the question

'Why do you think I asked you that question?', 'What was the importance of that question?', 'What would have been a better question?'

Another powerful benefit of Socratic questioning is the impact it can have on students answers if they start using Socratic questioning themselves when completing units of work within the classroom or at home. By using Socratic questioning themselves they can often analyse and evaluate at a much higher level.


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