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Benefits Backed By Research
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We never like to get very technical, but we’ve actually carried out Qualitative Research that has revealed that Aristotle’s Cafe has major benefits for participants.
Through the use of invitational rhetoric and the Socratic method, Aristotle’s Café discussions establish a safe venue to share ideas, opinions, and questions. It also serves as a place to learn through conversation and free expression (Foss & Griffin, 1995). With minimal verbal participation, a facilitator assists the group in discovering and sharing their thoughts on the topic of their choice. The initial question explored is chosen by group submissions and then a majority vote is used to narrow the question down to just one.
Facilitators are trained to pose questions that explore depth and complexity rather than adding extraneous input. These discussions last about one hour. Aristotle’s Cafés are currently being sponsored at three mid-sized universities around the United States.
The forum uses an open style of communication. It is not a unidirectional type of communication as most lecture methods, but rather a flow of ideas and questions (Hawkins-Leon, 1998; Sattler, 1943; Schiller, 2008).
While this might not be a traditional lecture, the Socratic Method has been shown to have benefits (Boghossian, 2006; Ekachai & Parkinson, 2002; Garside, 1996; Gordon, 2003; Paul & Elder, 2007; Tsui, 2002; Tucker, 2007) and thus Aristotle’s Café is a powerful supplement to instruction.