Original Research

The use of the Socratic inquiry to facilitate critical thinking in nursing education

Agnes Makhene
Health SA Gesondheid | Vol 24 | a1224 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hsag.v24i0.1224 | © 2019 Agnes Makhene | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 August 2018 | Published: 23 April 2019

About the author(s)

Agnes Makhene, Department of Nursing Sciences, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Background: Critical thinking is a skill that nurse practitioners are required to have. Socratic inquiry can be used to facilitate critical thinking in nursing. Nurse educators seek methods to infuse into teaching content to facilitate students’ critical thinking skills, and one of such methods is the use of Socratic inquiry as a teaching method.

Aim: This article aims to explore and describe how Socratic inquiry can be used to facilitate critical thinking in nursing education.

Setting: This study took place in a nursing department at a university in Johannesburg.

Methods: A qualitative, exploratory, descriptive and contextual design was used. Purposive sampling was used to draw a sample of 15 nurse educators determined by data saturation. Miles, Huberman and Saldaña’s methodology of qualitative data analysis was used. Lincoln and Guba’s strategies for trustworthiness and Dhai and McQuoid-Mason’s principles of ethical consideration were used.

Results: Three main themes emerged: the context necessary for Socratic inquiry, dispositions in Socratic inquiry and strategies to use in Socratic inquiry to facilitate critical thinking skills of students.

Conclusions: Socratic inquiry can be used both in education and practice settings to facilitate the use of critical thinking skills to solve problems.


dialogue; questioning; higher order thinking; critical thinking; Socratic


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