Professor Antonella Poce Teaches Us How to Think
by Evelyn Levine
I recently spoke with Professor Antonella Poce, an Associate Professor (and qualified as a Full Professor), in Experimental Pedagogy at Roma Tre University in Rome who has extensively studied Critical Thinking (CT) in depth. Professor Poce sees CT skills as essential, especially for educators and especially at this time. The relevance of CT skills spans the realm from worldwide politics to our individual work lives, from the arts and sciences to cultural awareness. But these skills are often not taught, or not taught well; CT is considered an essential yet unaddressed area—so essential and unaddressed, in fact, that Professor Poce calls it an “emergency” that needs to be addressed. But, before we can address the lack of education in Critical Thinking skills, we need to explore how they can be clearly understood and measured.
The following is an edited Q&A with Professor Poce on her extensive work on Critical Thinking.
Q: What exactly is Critical Thinking?
A: Critical Thinking is a way of approaching situations and includes asking others or oneself the following questions:
- Am I considering this problem in an unbiased manner?
- Am I considering all the evidence?
- Are my arguments formulated in a clear way?
There are both general and specific domains of Critical Thinking. The general domain includes thought about societal topics such as education and health issues. The specific domain refers to a specialized area of knowledge such as engineering, the humanities, biology, etc.
Q: How do we assess Critical Thinking?
A: Essays, open-ended questions and analysis of collaboration, among others. I envision Artificial Intelligence (AI) supporting human assessments in the near future.
Q: How do new technologies relate to Critical Thinking?
A: Technology is not the enemy of thought. When it is used appropriately, technology can support the 4Cs: Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, and Creativity. I call this type of usage the “critical use of technology.” Technology assists me in my daily work through international communication and collaboration. Additionally, a recent Museum Art project found that using technology for student collaboration improved Critical Thinking among university graduate students.
Q: Why is this topic so important at this time?
A: Critical thinking development is a contemporary emergency that should be addressed with care and attention because—especially at this time—we are constantly overwhelmed by a continuous flood of information, so we need tools to filter the true from the false, the relevant from the irrelevant, the consistent from the inconsistent.
Q: Can you share some information about your latest research projects?
A: One is the Inclusive Memory Project, which is a collaborative effort of seven academic departments of the University of Roma Tre. It combines innovative teaching methodologies, such as individual and collaborative writing assignments, with new digital tools to develop critical thinking, communication, and cooperation skills, particularly focusing on disadvantaged groups. [Ed. Note: More information about this project can be found at http://host.uniroma3.it/progetti/inclusivememory/en/index.html.]
Another project is the development of a prototype to assess University Teachers’ Critical Thinking Skills. Pilot studies for this project are being done in both the USA and Italy). [Ed. Note: More information can be found at https://onlinejour.journals.publicknowledgeproject.org/index.php/i-jac/article/view/11259.]
Antonella Poce is an Associate Professor (qualified as a Full Professor), in Experimental Pedagogy in the Department of Education at Roma Tre University in Rome. She is one of the keynote speakers at ICELW 2020 – International Conference on E-Learning in the Workplace, taking place at Columbia University in New York, June 10-12, 2020.
Evelyn Levine works as a Training and Staff Development Director for the U.S. Courts. She writes on worldwide learning and development trends in public and private sectors. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.