Promoting Critical Thinking through Socratic Questions in Health Sciences Work-Integrated Learning

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Critical thinking is an essential skill that needs to be developed in students to provide quality support, care and well-being for their patients. It is an important skill that includes critical decision-making, evaluating the situation, communicating and participating in the decision-making. These skills are aligned with the 21st century work skills required for efficient and quality outputs. The Socratic question technique has been found to be an effective approach to promote and enhance students' critical thinking during their work-integrated learning. This study aimed to explore students' experiences of Socratic questioning to promote their critical thinking skills during the work-integrated learning of an acupuncture programme at a South African higher education institution. This study used a qualitative case study design embedded within an interpretivist paradigm. The research setting was a public university in Gauteng province. The purposive sampling technique was used to invite participants. Six (6) participants voluntarily agreed to participate. The data collection instrument was text-based interviews. Data were analysed inductively whereby themes were identified and analysed. Trustworthiness and its relevant principles were adhered throughout the study. The findings of this study revealed that students acknowledged the value of Socratic questioning in work-integrated learning to improve critical thinking. They further agreed that the technique gave them the opportunity to be self-reflective. However, participants indicated that there is a need for academics to be thoroughly familiar with Socratic questioning to add value to their learning. More time should be allocated for Socratic questioning during work-integrated learning. This study concluded that Socratic questioning was essential and pertinent to promote students' critical thinking during work-integrated learning. There is a need to provide training for academics and clinical instructors to be knowledgeable on how to utilise Socratic questioning methods appropriately. Further studies are recommended to be conducted at international levels with different research approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-151
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • clinical training
  • critical thinking
  • higher education
  • socratic questioning
  • work-integrated learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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