• How do you describe an ‘ideal’ student?
  • If you could magically change something about how you teach and learn, what would it be?
  • Is good teaching the reciprocal of good learning?

If these introductory questions have got you thinking, then I’d argue we’ve started a dialogue.

Socratic questioning is an educational technique that you can apply across many levels and types of content. A summary of the technique by Professor Rob Reich (2003) at Stanford University reads:

In the Socratic method, the classroom experience is a shared dialogue between teacher and students in which both are responsible for pushing the dialogue forward through questioning. The “teacher,” or leader of the dialogue, asks probing questions in an effort to expose the values and beliefs which frame and support the thoughts and statements of the participants in the inquiry. The students ask questions as well, both of the teacher and each other.

Typically, it’s a method used in synchronous (live) classes. However, Yang et al (2010) implemented the technique in their classes via asynchronous discussion forums. Their primary strategy was modelling the technique and, for the treatment phase of their experiment, explicitly teaching students the technique. They found that integrating this technique improved students’ critical thinking skills and the quality of their interactions in the online discussion forum.

Using and exploring this technique asynchronously in your class is valuable for several reasons:

The level of thinking that occurs is influenced by the level of questions asked.

Yang, Y.-T. C., Newby, T. J., & Bill, R. L. (2005)

Thinking is driven not by answers but by questions.

Elder, L., & Paul, R. (1998)

(It) generates thoughts rather than thought stopping with an answer.

Elder, L., & Paul, R. (1998)

(Students have) the time for thoughtful analysis, composition, negotiation, and reflection.

Yang, Y.-T. C., Newby, T. J., & Bill, R. L. (2005)

The challenge, of course, is applying this technique – but fortunately, we don’t have to start from scratch. H5P includes several content types that take the question and answer format, such as: multiple choice, guess the answer, quiz question set, dialog cards, etc. Have a look at the following example:

By taking the usual format and focusing on the generation and formation of good questions, the groundwork for rich dialogue during the semester can be well laid.

For more example questions, see:

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Image by Raimund Feher from Pixabay

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