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Maximizing Learning Outcomes by Socratic Questioning: Exploring the Pedagogical Applications and Challenges among Language Lecturers at Universiti Malaysia Kelantan

von Hum Chan (Autor) Iwan Zahar (Autor)

Referat (Ausarbeitung) 2013 9 Seiten

Sprachwissenschaft / Sprachforschung (fachübergreifend)



This study aims to explore the perception of language lecturers toward the pedagogical applications and challenges of Socrates Questioning for language teaching. Quantitative method with questionnaire was applied to collect data from 20 language lecturers at Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK). Data was analyzed by SPSS. The findings revealed that applying Socrates questioning in language teaching can enhance teaching effectiveness, affect students’ learning behaviour and promote students’ learning activities that can produce optimal learning outcomes. However, fruitful learning outcomes depended on lecturers’ ability and skills to apply questions in pedagogical manner linking Socrates questions and questioning techniques regarding the target language, teaching procedures and learning activities that can enrich profound outcomes.

Keywords: Learning Outcomes, Pedagogical Application, Socrates Questions


In general, effective questioning by teachers can give significant effect on students’ learning and learning outcomes (Orland 2001). From the evolution of Socrates point of view, better questioning can effectively transfer knowledge to students. On average, teachers ask nearly 400 questions per day or at least1.000 questions per week. The purpose of questioning ranges from drawing students’ attention and participation, checking their understanding, evaluating learning outcomes, provoking discussion, revising teaching contents and enhancing critical thinking (Orland 2001). In the process, teachers use varieties of questions, for example, Yes/No questions, Open-ended questions, Convergent questions, and divergent questions (Gabrielatos 1997; Chaudron 1988); display questions (Ellis 1994) or inferential questions (Lam 2011) and among other questions.

However, researchers criticized that most teachers apply these questions for basic level of cognitive learning lacked driver to link teaching contents and procedures to reach maximum outcomes since teachers do not have clear focus in asking questions (Suter 2001). Paul and Elder (2005) also gave similar comment that poor questioning technique cannot produce deeper understanding of students that can develop students’ rationale, judgement, and understanding. Effective questioning by teachers can also reduce teacher talking time (TTT), provoke students’ participation and manage teaching time effectiveness (Gabrielatos 1997). To do so, teachers must possess expertise in mastering high-level cognitive questions such as Socrates questioning.

Socrates uses questions to provoke students’ attention, make them listen to lectures, analyze concepts, and develop critical mind (Cotton 1988; Orland 2001). Today, the application has remained an orthodox for language teaching. However, most teachers still go wide in applying Socrates techniques as they are not able design systematic and precise questions to gain explicit and depth responses from students (Norman & Patnode 2002). Unclear responses from students to the target language can reflect weakness of teaching and poor questioning skills. Therefore, this study intends to explore the perceptions among language lecturers at Universiti Malaysia Kelantan toward the pedagogical applications and challenges of Socrates Questioning on maximizing students’ learning outcomes.


Applications of Socrates Questions

Socrates is well known ancient Greek philosopher who has never written anything. He is also known for his questioning strategy. Is he really had questioning strategy so called elenchus? In modern times, elenchus become a proper name. The most important activity in elenchus is search. In Greek works, elenchus can be used to mean “refutation”, “testing”, “censure” and “reproach”. Socrate’s procedure will be as follows; When the interlocutor asserts a thesis p, Socrates considers false and secure agreement to propose q and r. Socrates argues and the interlocutor agrees that q and r entail not-p. Socrates then claim that not-p is true, and p false (Vlatos, 1994). However Many scholars is against Vlatos’opinion about “socratec” methods because Plato and Socates himself had never name it. It is not clear whether the elenchus is a process (which means to cross-examine, to put to test, to put to the proof or to indicate), or a result (which could mean to shame, to refute or to prove) Scoot, 2001.

However, Paul and Elder select Socrates questions and place them in hierarchically starts from; clarity, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breath and significance. Some scholars has already selected Socrates questions and they are applying several referential questions, convergent and divergent questions (Gabrielatos 1997; Chaudron 1988). Undeniable these questions are stimulus and meaningful, but in the postmodern language teaching and learning lecturers need to master high order questioning to promote high level cognitive thinking. To this end, Paul and Elder (2005) suggested teachers applying Socrates Questions to provoke students’ involvement, attention and critical thinking which help fostering deeper understanding. In this regard, Socrates posed questions about the subject matters, while students explore answers and extend the discussion (Orland, 2001). According to Paul and Elder (2005), Socrates Questions are applied for the following purposes:


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maximizing learning outcomes socratic questioning exploring pedagogical applications challenges language lecturers universiti malaysia kelantan



Titel: Maximizing Learning Outcomes by Socratic Questioning: Exploring the Pedagogical Applications and Challenges among Language Lecturers at Universiti Malaysia Kelantan