Nussbaum (1998) proposed that Socratic activity is a worthwhile pursuit with regard to academic advising relationships. While it offers the promise of certain benefits, such as the development of critical thinking skills, Socratic activity arguably cannot be universally applied to all advising relationships. In presenting and analyzing issues related to the Socratic method, I offer support for a model of quasi-Socratic activity in advising as first identified by Hagen (1994). Referred to as “beneficial dialectic,” it can function from a more contextual standpoint than the traditional Socratic questioning method because through it advisors can consider factors such as level of student development, learning environments, and individual proclivities.

This content is only available as a PDF.

Author notes

Marlene S. Kuhtmann is a doctoral student in the Higher Education Administration program at Boston College. She is also an administrative fellow in Boston College's Office of the Academic Vice President. Ms. Kuhtmann's research interests include the intersection of institutional culture and academic advising as well as the examination of institutional efforts to facilitate developmental advising. Interested readers may contact Ms. Kuhtmann at

The author thanks Dr. Ana M. Martínez-Alemán from the Higher Education Administration Department at Boston College for her guidance. Peter Hagen also provided exceptional guidance in his role as the guest editor on the issue.