Tag Archives: 4mat learning model

4MAT Interactive Lecture: Teach like Socrates

In the 4MAT learning model, the trainer designs a learning experience that taps into what the learner already knows about the subject. Thousands of years ago, Socrates was putting 4MAT into action. Socrates believed that every learner brought knowledge into the learning experience. And, it was the teacher’s responsibility to bring forth that knowledge.

Here’s a training activity idea to put the Socratic teaching method into action. You might try this to liven up Inform, the lecture portion of the 4MAT training design model:

Socratic Circles

Socratic circles can be used with any subject matter. Typically, learners first read information with an eye toward critically analyzing the content. Then, learners form into two concentric circles. First, the inner circle explores and discusses the text while the outer circle makes notes and later comments on the quality of the dialogue. Next, the two circles switch places and roles. The process is repeated, based on the dialogue of the second group. Each group is quiet while the other group shares.

Socratic circles are effective in developing the critical thinking skills of the group. Through this process, the learners develop shared meaning around the content being presented.


1.  Facilitator shares reading assignment (typically, prior to the session).

2. Learners analyze and take notes to prepare for dialogue.

3. Learners form two, concentric circles.

4. The inner circle shares their comments and observations for 10-15 minutes,  while the outer circle silently observes.

5. The outer circle listens and evaluates the inner circle’s dialogue.

6. The outer circle provides feedback on the dialogue, emphasizing what they observed.

7. Learners switch circles and roles.

8. The new inner circle shares their comments and dialogues for approximately 10-15 minutes.

9. The new outer circle shares their observations on the inner circle’s dialogue.

4MAT Train-the-Trainer: How Learning Happens

A learner’s preferences indicate where the learner lingers in the learning cycle. Regardless of learning style, every learner moves through all four stages of the 4MAT learning cycle. In The Art of Changing the Brain, Dr. James Zull shares that there are four stages of the Learning Cycle:

  Neuro-speak Translation
1 We have a concrete experience. Something happens
2 We engage in reflective observation and create new connections. We watch and reflect.
3 We generate abstract hypotheses. We think about it.
4 We do active testing of hypotheses, have a new concrete experience and a new learning cycle ensues. We move into action, something happens and the cycle begins again

 4MAT Training model

4MAT and learning styles

When we follow the 4MAT Learning model to design and deliver, we craft experiences that mirror the natural learning cycle.