April 6 lecture focuses on developing critical thinking

OSU Mansfield and Drake Institute to host Fulbright Scholar

The Ohio State University at Mansfield and the Drake Institute for Teaching and Learning will host a Fulbright Visiting Scholar through the Fulbright Outreach Lecturing Fund (OLF). Amanda Helena Rodrigues Franco, Ph.D., will virtually visit and present on Wednesday,  April 6, at 12:30 p.m.

In "A 'sustainable future for all': Enhancing university students' critical thinking through the lens of (critical) global citizenship education,” Franco will address the challenge facing higher education in the development of citizens who are critical thinkers, particularly in a context filled with information, misinformation and disinformation. 

In her talk, critical thinking is defined and its relevance is stressed, setting the context for a research project that aims to analyze the motivations of faculty who participated in a program on critical and creative thinking held at North Carolina State and its impact on their teaching practices in the framework of Critical Global Citizenship Education. 

“Not only do higher education institutions declare that their mission is to develop students' critical thinking, but students are also expected to be critical thinkers on campus and, especially, in their real lives,” Dr. Franco explains.

“Critical thinking is an ensemble of skills (e.g., to search for and interpret information, to analyze the validity of an argument), dispositions (e.g., deliberation, curiosity, epistemic modesty), thinking criteria (e.g., validity, precision, ethics) and a knowledge base, which is useful in a myriad of life spheres – personal, social, academic and professional. 

“However, critical thinking is also hard work, which is the reason why higher education institutions must commit to its fulfillment, while faculty must promote it deliberately, explicitly and systematically in the classroom. It is crucial to work with faculty and students for the promotion and development of critical thinking, with respect to societal issues that affect us all.”

Norman Jones, Ph.D., dean and director at Mansfield, noted that the Mansfield campus serves an undergraduate population of roughly 1,000 students, 22% of whom are from underrepresented groups, 20% of whom are non-traditionally aged, and more than 40% of whom are first-generation college students. Franco's presentation "will no doubt speak powerfully to the challenges of and opportuities for creating sound, evidence-based approaches to both critical thinking and citizenship for all our students," he said. He added that the topic is also timely given the new "Citizenship for a Diverse World" General Education curriclum requirement.

Institute Director Kay Halasek explained that Franco "has graciously agreed to lead a community conversation. Through that conversation, we hope to extend her ideas and consider the ways her research might inform our own pedagogical approaches to critical thinking, citizenship, and undergraduate education. Dr. Rodrigues Franco will, no doubt, facilitate and strengthen our collective engagement with and planning for this new curriculum."

Franco is a postdoctoral Fulbright Scholar at North Carolina State University in collaboration with the Project EQuIPES, at the ESEV School of Education of the Polytechnic Institute of Viseu in Portugal. 

She earned a Ph.D. in the Science of Education (specialty area: Educational Psychology) at  the University of Minho, Portugal, in 2016 with an FCT-Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia Fellowship; she obtained a post-doctorate in the same area, also with an FCT Fellowship, at the CIDTFF-Didactics and Technology in Teachers' Education Research Center of University of Aveiro (2020). She holds a master’s degree in School and Educational Psychology (University of Minho, 2009).

Franco has professional experience as a school psychologist. Her areas of research have been the promotion of critical thinking and pedagogical innovation in the context of faculty professional development. 

This event is made possible with the support of the Fulbright Outreach Lecturing Fund (OLF).


A 40-minute community conversation will follow. More information and zoom links for that session will be distributed prior to the lecture.