Case-Based Student Performance: Socratic Method vs. Passive Presentation

Lorne Yudcovitch, OD, MS, FAAO 
John R. Hayes, PhD


Background: Presentation of patient case examples is often used in healthcare education to facilitate clinical thinking in the classroom. The question arises as to whether a passive (instructor-only presentation) or Socratic (encouraging student discussion) approach is more effective when presenting patient case examples. Methods: Student exam performance and perceptions from passive and Socratic approaches were assessed. Results: Little difference was seen in examination performance using either approach; however, students subjectively preferred the Socratic approach rather than passive instruction. Conclusions: Socratic or passive case-based approaches provide comparable examination outcomes. Students tend to prefer the Socratic approach when presented patient cases. 

Key Words: case-based learning, Socratic method

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