Socratic Method Case Studies

Popular within schools of business and law, the Socratic case study method engages participants in a problem that they must solve. Pioneered in ancient Greece, the Socratic method has utility and value with many types of learners and at many educational levels. Literally centuries-old, these methods, and the case-study materials that drive the learning, have seldom been applied to the contexts and challenges that we seek at Resilience Education.

Generally, our case studies are built around a narrative of someone attempting to solve a problem. These narratives are developed to teach a set of specific concepts, and are drafted with learning objectives in mind. Participants are frequently asked to take the perspective of a case study’s protagonist, and asked, “How would you solve this problem?” The answers to these questions are based on a participant’s own analysis of the problem, and the feedback they receive from their classmates.  The instructor acts as “conductor”, facilitating the discussion, probing key questions to achieve learning objectives.

Our experience is that such an approach to teaching places greater responsibility – and agency – on the learner. She and her classmates are active players in their education, rather than relatively passive listeners. Their voices, opinions and analyses are what drive the learning — not an instructor’s chalk.

Our learning process happens at both the individual and group levels. Individual preparation of case materials and reflection on classroom discussions create individual confidence and knowledge. The constructive feedback of peers helps the group move forward, and builds a sense of camraderie.

Course Design

Resilience Education’s team is experienced in designing customized educational programs and importantly, impact measurement systems for the programs we field. Although we recognize the importance of fit with a broad range of participant learning styles and approaches, we are strong believers in participant-centered, problem-driven, Socratic-method pedagogy.

However, our approach isn’t “hammers looking for a nail.” We’ve seen the powerful engagement that can result from Socratic methods across a broad range of participant groups and challenges. We’ve also applied other modes of learning in the field as well. What is central to our pedagogical philosophy is that it begins in meeting participants where they are, and assisting them on their own paths to learning.

The nature of our work in Resilience Education requires that we deal with complicated, even thorny issues. We choose to work with groups some see as challenging, even ineducable, and on problems that many view as intractable. We begin by immersing ourselves in the problem and working with clients to design a prescriptive educational effort that best meets their needs. When agreed, we also work with clients to put in place measurement systems to gauge the impact of our work.

Resilience Education course design services feature:

  • Challenge/problem identification
  • Needs assessment/research
  • Development of learning objectives
  • Identification and/or development of course materials
  • Socratic method pedagogical training
  • Course evaluation instruments