Teaching Philosophy

Volume 40, Issue 3, September 2017

Mark Walker, David Trafimow, Jamie Bronstein
Pages 341-365

The Socratic Note Taking Technique
Addressing the Problem of Students Not Engaging with Assigned Readings before Class

The notion of Socratic Note Taking (SNT) is introduced to enhance students’ learning from assigned readings. SNT features students asking questions and answering their own questions while doing the readings. To test the effectiveness of SNT, half the students from two sections of a philosophy course were assigned SNT on alternating weeks. Quizzes each week alternated between the two classes as either high or low stakes in a counterbalanced format. The design was a 2 (Notes: SNT or not) x 2 (Stakes: high or low) x 2 (Replication: first or second replication of a Notes x Stakes cell) within-participants factorial. On ten-point quizzes, SNT made an average difference of 1.22 points (more than a letter grade). Furthermore, the results indicate that SNT is particularly effective with weaker students, e.g., we found a nearly three-point increase on ten-point quizzes for the weakest students.