Applying Socratic Method in Peer Learning
Principal Supervisors

Dr. Szeto Wai Man
(Office of University General Education)
Dr. Ng Ka Leung
(Office of University General Education)


1 year and 6 months

Approved Budget

HK $99,950

  • Abstract
  • Brief write-up
  • Video Report


  • In this project, we propose to formally introduce the Socratic method in a peer-learning environment and to study its effectiveness on students’ learning.

  • Peer learning has been a well-established practice in higher education which brings gains to both student participants and peer leaders. Since 2009, the General Education Foundation Programme (GEF) has launched the Peer-Assisted Study Session (PASS) program, in which peer leaders facilitate group discussions among participants via various questioning techniques.

  • Socratic method was adopted by one of the peer leaders to systematize the questioning process. The method has the advantages of facilitating students’ development of critical thinking, open-mindedness and teamwork. The peer leader has recently been awarded the 2017 Australasian Peer Leader Award by The National Centre for PASS (Australia), in recognition of his use of the Socratic method.

  • Encouraged by the positive feedback from students and the international recognition, we are planning to implement peer-led Socratic method in a larger scale to benefit more CUHK students, with the systematic evaluation of its effectiveness in peer learning.

  • The project aims to achieve the following outcomes:
    • To introduce Socratic method in a peer-learning environment of GEF.
    • To identify different strategies in the practice of Socratic method in peer learning.
    • To investigate the effectiveness of Socratic method in peer learning through quantitative and qualitative methods.

  • The project is expected to result in the following system-level improvements:
    • Fostering students’ critical thinking and open-mindedness.
    • Enhancing students’ communication and leadership skills.
    • Advancing the practice of peer learning at the University.

Brief write-up

Project objectives

The project aims to formally introduce the Socratic method in a peer-learning environment and to study its effectiveness on students’ learning. The project will be carried out in the existing Peer-Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) in the General Education Foundation (GEF) Programme.

Activities, process and outcomes

Two training workshops for PASS Leaders were conducted in January 2018 and 2019 to equip them with the skills of applying Socratic Method in their PASS sessions. A total of 15 PASS Leaders were trained. The Socratic Method was then implemented in PASS in 2017-18 Term 2 and 2018-19 Term 2. Besides, a training manual tailor-made for applying the Socratic method in GEF was produced and fine-tuned.

Deliverables and evaluation

The practice of Socratic Method is found to be beneficial to both the PASS participants and leaders. Survey data showed that student participants who attended the Socratic method-led PASS sessions reported an increased overall satisfaction. Focus group data showed that they could go through the required readings systematically and have increased confidence in answering questions. Interview data showed that the questioning techniques, analytic skills, communication skills and leadership skills of the PASS Leaders were improved.

Dissemination, diffusion, impact and sharing of good practices

The project results were disseminated in 4 local conferences and seminars. The good practices will be continuously implemented in PASS of GEF and shared with other units at CUHK.

Video Report

Please click the following link for viewing the report.