Socractic Questioning Prompts

Decorative: A statue of Socrates next to a question mark made out of clouds in the sky


A. "Teaching Critical Thinking Through Online Discussion Groups" (article summary; whole pdf) lists a variety of "Socratic Questioning Prompts" in Table 1.

See also

B. Socratic Questioning Prompts

1. "Questions for Clarification"

  • "What do you mean by _____?"
  • "What is your main point?"
  • "How does _____ relate to _____?"
  • "Could you put it another way?"
  • "What do you think is the main issue here?"
  • "Let me see if I understand: do you mean _____ or _____?"
  • "Jane, could you summarize in your own words what Richard has said?"
  • "Richard, is that what you meant?"
  • "Could you give me an example?"
  • "Would this be an example: _____?"
  • "Could you explain that further?"

2. "Questions about the Initial Question or Issue"

  • "How can we find out?"
  • "What does this questions assume?"
  • Would _____ put the question differently?"
  • "Can we break this question down at all?"
  • "Does this question lead to other questions or issues?"

3. "Questions that Probe Assumptions"

  • "What are you assuming?"
  • "What could we assume instead?"
  • "You seem to be assuming _____. Do I understand you correctly?"
  • "How would you justify taking this for granted?"
  • "Is this always the case?"
  • "Why do think the assumption holds here?"

4. "Questions that Probe Reason and Evidence"

  • "What would be an example?"
  • "Could you explain your reasons to us?"
  • "Are those reasons adequate?"
  • "Do you have any evidence for that?"
  • "How could we find out if that is true?"

5. "Questions that Probe Origin or Source Questions"

  • "Where did you get this idea?"
  • "Have you been influenced by the media?"
  • "What caused you to feel this way?"

6. "Questions that Probe Implications and Consequences"

  • "What are you implying by that?"
  • "What effect would that have?"
  • "What is an alternative?"
  • "If that is the case, then what else must be true?"

7. "Questions about Viewpoints or Perspectives"

  • "How would other groups of people respond? Why?"
  • "How could you answer the objection that _____ would make?"
  • "Can anyone see this another way?"
  • "What would someone who disagrees say?"
Printer Friendly, PDF & Email