Socratic Inquiry, Syllogism, Schematic Cases, and Symbolism: Critical Thinking Strategies for Nursing Education : Nurse Educator

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Socratic Inquiry, Syllogism, Schematic Cases, and Symbolism

Critical Thinking Strategies for Nursing Education

Fink, Anne M. PhD, RN, CNE; Martyn-Nemeth, Pamela PhD, RN, FAAN

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Nurse Educator 48(3):p 125-130, May/June 2023. | DOI: 10.1097/NNE.0000000000001324



Critical thinking is an essential nursing competency. Faculty can teach students how to think critically by emphasizing the connections between their philosophy and nursing curricula to ensure that students recognize the cognitive processes they use to make complex decisions.


The purpose of this article is to examine the definitions, history, and utility of philosophical perspectives that inform critical thinking. We explain several approaches: Socratic inquiry, syllogism, schematic cases, and symbolism.


We conducted a narrative review about educational approaches and their associated philosophies.


Philosophical awareness can enhance students' abilities to examine data, communicate ideas, evaluate diverse opinions, understand theories, and apply innovative solutions to problems they will encounter in clinical practice.


Clinical issue dialogues, dramatizations (that link philosophical and practical themes), self-reflection exercises, and case studies (that are less content-laden and more focused on nurses' theories and decision-making processes) represent important and innovative critical thinking skill-building exercises.

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