Using the Socratic Approach to Problem Solving

Using the Socratic Approach to Problem Solving

Applying a Socratic approach to problem solving can help to identify gaps and improve problem solving. It can help to spark new insights to produce further knowledge of the problematic area of interest. This approach focuses on asking a person a series of open-ended questions to help promote reflection.

Step 1: Identify the elements of the problem, issue or question

Things you may do in this step may include:

  • Breaking the problem down into pieces, elements or components.
  • Look for missing information or gaps in what you know.
  • Make note of the information that you don’t have or can’t find

Questions you may ask in this step include:

  • What is the problem you’re trying to solve?
  • What information is missing?
  • Is it possible to get the information that I don’t have?

Step 2: Analyze/Define/Frame the problem, issue or question

Things you may do in this step may include:

  • Decide which pieces of information are important
  • Avoid premature solutions
  • Identify the complexities of the problem

Questions you may ask in this step include:

  • What am I trying to solve?
  • Is the information so far gathered relevant to the problem?
  • What are all of the possible causes of the problem?

Step 3: Consider solutions, responses or answers

Things you may do in this step may include:

  • Analyze possible solutions
  • Check the implications of each possible solution

Questions you may ask in this step include:

  • Are there any other possible solutions?
  • What might be the consequences of these solutions?

Step 4: Choose an actual solution to implement

Things you may do in this step may:

  • Question your choice of solution
  • Consider the problems that may result from your choice

Questions you may ask in this step include:

  • Why do I prefer this solution as compared to the others?
  • What are the possible risks of this solution?
  • How is this solution supported by the facts so far?

Step 5: Implement your choice

  • Monitor the progress of the implementation

Step 6: Evaluate the results

  • Did I solve the problem?

This is just one way to go about solving a problem when you get called into a situation where you need to solve a problem. There are other ways to skin the cat but this one is easy enough to follow and can provide some fruitful information to help solve the problem

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