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USING SOCRATIC TECHNIQUES TO INCREASE LEARNING OUTCOMES IN ONLINE EDUCATION

S. Jumper

Norwich University (UNITED STATES)
This paper will explore strategies for increasing student learning and critical thinking skills through interactive and Socratic use of discussion boards and online forums. The Socratic method has been used for centuries in higher education, particularly in the study of law, medicine, and philosophy. The online learning environment provides greater opportunities for interaction and participation than the traditional classroom setting. The encouragement of rigorous debate and critical thinking on a variety of issues is an essential component of higher education, in whatever format it is presented. Professors should encourage and nurture curiosity of students about the world, its history, its people, and current events. Laying a foundation for open and non-combative discussion from Day 1 of each online course is critical to the success of this educational tool. Employing a “backward design process” in conjunction with Socratic interaction on discussion boards enables an instructor to accomplish course objectives, build core knowledge that a student will retain, and facilitate the development of critical thinking and analytical skills.