General Examples of Socratic Questions

Socratic questions can be phrased in three general ways:
  1. To explore a general aspect of course material.
    "Describe different types of tectonic movement along plate boundaries."
  2. To encourage creativity and brainstorming.
    "Think of as many causes as possible for the origin of a large boulder found perched upon a nearly flat plain that is underlain by a rock type different from that of the boulder."
  3. To focus attention on a specific problem.
    "Compare the evidence used by scientists to support the idea of biological evolution (or modern global warming) with that used by others who reject the possibility of evolution (or global warming)."
Educational researchers refer to specific categories of questions, indicated below with examples.

Questions of Clarification
  • What is your main point?
  • Can you give me an example?
  • What is the source of that idea or information?
  • Can you summarize what we discussed?
Questions that Probe Assumptions
  • What are you assuming?
  • How would you support your assumption?
Questions that Probe Reasons and Evidence
  • What did you observe in the demonstration/experiment?
  • What evidence supports your hypothesis?
Questions that Probe Implications and Consequences
  • What effect would that have?
  • What could you generalize from this observation?
  • What does that remind you of?
  • What do you predict will happen next?