How to use Socratic questioning in order to promote adults’ self-directed learning

O. Katsara*, K. De Witte

*Corresponding author for this work

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This article discusses the teachers' role in self-directed learning (SDL) - a central concept in adult education. We explore the use of Socratic questioning to develop critical thinking, which is the outcome of SDL in problem-based learning (PBL). In particular, we analyse 11 adult learners' reflective journals in relation to a Socratic seminar. Findings showed that adult learners value the mutual relationship between the learner and the teacher in managing the learning process. In addition, we suggest a teaching approach where Socratic questioning can facilitate students' SDL. We conclude with implications on its use as a means to initiate the learning goals of a PBL tutorial.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-129
Number of pages21
JournalStudies in the Education of Adults
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019

JEL classifications

  • i21 - Analysis of Education


  • Adult learning
  • Socratic questioning
  • critical thinking
  • problem-based learning (PBL)
  • self-directed learning (SDL)

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