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How To Become An Informed Citizen In The (Dis)Information Society? Recommendations And Strategies To Mobilize One’s Critical Thinking *

Amanda Franco 1, Ana Sofia Sousa 2 & Rui Marques Vieira 3

Abstract:  We are confronted with information up-to-the-minute, often accepting it no questions asked. In the meanwhile, not always do the news agencies find the time to assure the fact checking of news, and this when there are covert intentions to raise disinformation, which creates the ideal context for the proliferation of “fake news”. To avoid being held hostage by disinformation that may lead to poor life decisions that may be harmful to oneself/others, each citizen must develop critical thinking capacities and dispositions to participate in a conscious and informed way in the public life. In this framework, we present a workshop that was carried out with the goal of raising participants’ awareness about the impact of (dis)information in their lives, and of supporting them in the identification of strategies to mobilize their critical thinking to analyze the news in their day-to-day. Also in light of the participants’ evaluation of this workshop, we make considerations about the relevance of critical thinking for an informed citizenship.

Keywords: Critical Thinking; Informed Citizenship; Disinformation; Workshop.

 

Resumo: Somos confrontados com informação ao minuto, aceitando-a, muitas vezes, sem a questionar. A par, as agências noticiosas nem sempre dispõem de tempo para realizar a verificação da credibilidade das notícias, e isto quando existem intenções ocultas para suscitar a desinformação, o que cria o contexto ideal para a proliferação das "falsas notícias". Para não ficar refém de desinformação que pode conduzir a decisões de vida irrefletidas que podem ser prejudiciais para si/outros, cada cidadão deverá desenvolver capacidades e disposições de pensamento crítico. Neste quadro, apresentamos uma oficina de formação dinamizada e realizada com o intuito de consciencializar os participantes para o impacto da (des)informação na sua vida, e apoiá-los na identificação de estratégias para mobilizar o pensamento crítico na análise de notícias no dia a dia. Também à luz da avaliação feita pelos participantes da oficina, tecemos considerações sobre a relevância do pensamento crítico para uma cidadania informada.

Palavras-chave: Pensamento Crítico; Cidadania Informada; Desinformação; Oficina de Formação.

 

Resumen: Somos confrontados con información al minuto, aceptándola, muchas veces, sin cuestionarla. Simultáneamente, las agencias de prensa ni siempre disponen de tiempo para realizar la verificación de la credibilidad de las noticias, y esto cuando existen intenciones ocultas para suscitar la desinformación, lo que crea el contexto ideal para la proliferación de “noticias falsas o engañosas”. Para no quedarse rehén de desinformación que puede llevar a decisiones de vida irreflexivas que resultan perjudiciales para sí mismo/otros, cada ciudadano deberá desarrollar capacidades y disposiciones de pensamiento crítico. En este cuadro, presentamos un taller de formación dinamizado y realizado con el objetivo de sensibilizar los participantes para el impacto de la (des)información en sus vidas, y apoyarles en la identificación de estrategias para movilizar su pensamiento crítico en el análisis de noticias en el cotidiano. También a la luz de la evaluación hecha por los participantes del taller, realizamos algunas consideraciones sobre la relevancia del pensamiento crítico para una ciudadanía informada.

Palabras-clave: Pensamiento crítico; Ciudadanía Informada; Desinformación; Taller de Formación.

 


1. Introduction

Welcome to Society of (Dis)Information

In line with a term that encompasses the characteristics that seem to describe the world today, we live in a “V.U.C.A. world”, that is, in a context that is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. Here, life in society is strongly defined by technology and Artificial Intelligence, aside from non-stop information and a set of complex challenges that are common to us all, such as climate change, political instability, fragility of democracies, and social inequality. For this reason, it has become imperative to develop the resources that are necessary for one to give a fast and effective answer to both challenges and opportunities that the global world has to offer (LeBlanc, 2018).

In the present paper, we will focus on the relentless production and dissemination of information, one key feature of the so-called “Information Society”. According to Jurado-González and Gómez-Barroso (2016), this concept – although complex and somewhat debatable - may be understood as “mainly related to the prominence of information, its creation, distribution, use, integration and manipulation as a significant economic, political, social, and cultural activity” (p. 437). It is clear to see why many have been using the pun “Disinformation Society” to refer to it.

Indeed, there is a wide diversity of means of communication, with “image, word, and sound being transmitted continuously and very often simultaneously through television, the Internet, social media, radio, press, videogames, smartphones, and other new screens” (Oliveira & Caetano, 2017, p. 11). In face of such a scenario, some questions arise: How do people inform themselves daily? Is there something influencing the kind of information that people receive and the way in which they receive it? Do people, in general, recognize disinformation?

 

What influences the access to and internalization of information?

In order to attempt to answer the three questions above, there is some information that may be useful. The smartphone is currently the most widely used mobile device in contemporary societies (Sarwar & Soomro, 2013). Also relevant is the fact that 90,2% of European Union citizens access the Internet (Miniwatts Marketing Group, 2019) and that 75% of the Portuguese population accesses it through mobile devices, as stated by journalist Sofia Neves (2019). At the same time, data provided by PORDATA - Database of Contemporary Portugal (https://www.pordata.pt), referring to the year 2017, state that 71.5% of the households in Portugal had a computer at home, whereas 76.9% of those households had Internet connection. The use of the Internet was mainly done by the 16 to 24-year age group (99.0%), the 25 to 34-year age group (97.6%), and the 35 to 44-year age group (93.2%).

Now, if we took a close look at the time we are spending online and we considered specifically the average time spent on social media, it would represent a total of five years and four months of our lives (with our time being divided by social networks such as Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat, for instance), which is the same amount of time needed to travel to the moon and back - 32 times! - , says an article published in Social Media Today (January 2017). It could be that people are spending a lot of time online. What do they do there?

While online, people access information, such as the news, taking the opportunity to inform themselves about diverse topics from current affairs. Yet this entails a few risks, since there might be something influencing the kind of information that people receive and the way in which they receive it. Let us begin by the external sources of influence. As reported by Storm, Stone, and Benjamin (2017), those who turn to the Internet to access information once, will most likely use the Internet again to access information in the future. If it is so, and as stated in an article published in Forbes (June 2016), some menaces may emerge, seeing that a social network such as Facebook biases its news’ feed according to each user’s behavior pattern, in agreement with a tailor-made principle. In other words, instead of presenting your friends’ posts chronologically, it follows the “friends and family come first” rule, with their posts having priority, as well as those topics that you “like” more often. Consequently, still according to the article by Forbes, those who use this social network as a privileged source of information are accessing to information that is neither impartial nor broad, but rather to information that is shared by friends who have similar preferences. This reinforces long-held beliefs by restricting the access to divergent ideas and standings.

Actually, this is no unprecedented phenomenon. Kahneman (2011) coined it “confirmation bias”, a thinking bias that makes a person prone to searching and interpreting new information in light of previous knowledge and beliefs, while overlooking new information that may reject what one already knows and what one believes in. Notwithstanding this menace, according to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center (June, 2015) to youngsters born in the 80’s and 90’s, 61% of the Millennials who were surveyed identified Facebook - from a total 42 possible alternatives – as the source most commonly used to access the news about politics and the Government the week before the survey.

Aside from such external sources of influence guiding the kind of information that people receive and the way in which they receive it, we find internal sources of influence - besides thinking bias such as “confirmation bias”, mentioned earlier. Studies in the field of Psychology (e.g., Bargh & Chartrand, 1999; Smith, Ratliff, & Nosek, 2012) tell us that the new information to which we access is assimilated differently according to prior established cognitive associations. Not only is the new information expeditiously assimilated by previous beliefs, promptly creating solid and long-lasting judgments and evaluations, but also does the new information reinforce those previous beliefs - regardless of its content. Such assimilation occurs expeditiously seeing that already existent cognitions are reinforced (Smith et al., 2012). These cognitive processes that foster this prompt assimilation may be seen as “mental butlers” (Bargh & Chartrand, 1999, p. 476), since they are experts on a person’s preferences and habits, being able to anticipate and provide, no questions asked.

So, do people, in general, recognize disinformation? What makes people to accept the news without questioning them? “Human minds are belief machines”, would answer Schneider (2007, p. 15). In addition, Lilienfeld and Byron would explain, “believing is our default state, so it comes to us naturally; disbelieving does not” (2013, p. 46). Besides this belief mode identified in the field of Psychology, the field of Philosophy brings forward the concept of “epistemic insouciance”. According to Cassam (2018), this term describes a carefree nonchalance attitude towards personal beliefs and allegations having or not any foundation on evidence. Indeed, for one to be obliged to find facts to corroborate personal beliefs and allegations would be viewed as an utter inconvenience. Regardless of the term we may use to label it, what the literature says is that thinking is not entirely rational; on the contrary, thinking is under the influence of many different variables, such as personal beliefs, cognitive bias, emotions, values, preferences, knowledge base, prior experience, expectations, etc. (Kahneman, 2011; Lilienfeld & Byron, 2013; Schneider, 2007).

 

Post-truth” and “Fake news”

In light of the above, could it be that the current mediatization of information equals manipulation? Not necessarily. Nonetheless, given the promptness and breadth with which information today is produced and disseminated - by each citizen, not only by legitimate and independent news agencies -, it is up to each news’ consumer to develop mechanisms to detect information that is both imprecise and false (Oliveira & Caetano, 2017). This is crucial, seeing that even legitimate and independent news agencies sometimes divulge news without fact checking their credibility. For example, in February 2017, at least one Portuguese television channel and one newspaper announced that “the prettiest street in the world is Portuguese!” Allegedly, there had been a poll in “a group of websites in the USA”, with the aim of finding out what “thousands of users” thought, based on their experiences, with a street in Lisbon being the lucky winner. Risking to disappoint particularly patriotic readers, we must say that this news story is actually false. Just as many other are. For this reason, it is fundamental that each citizen also contributes to the transparency of the information in circulation, by fact checking the news, thus helping to confirm the veracity and precision of information (Spinelli & Santos, 2018).

In the context of the prompt and wide production and dissemination of information today, situations such as the one presented above help to create a “post-truth” environment, which is ideal for the proliferation of the so-called “fake news”. Although both terms are not novel, their actuality is such that they were the cover of The Economist’s September 2016 issue, “Art of the lie”. This may be due to a set of political events surrounded by disinformation, such as the 2016 presidential elections in the USA; the 2016 referendum to decide on UK’s permanence/exit from the EU, which led to “Brexit”; or the 2018 presidential elections in Brazil.

Even though what the two terms describe in fact is disinformation, it is relevant to break them down. On the one hand, there is “post-truth”, which was elected word of the year in 2016, by Oxford Dictionary, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”. This term, which somehow translates an attempt to avoid the - inconvenient - truth, concerns “a world in which lies, rumors, and gossip spread quickly, creating a scenario that is favorable to the creation of networks whose members trust more in themselves than in any traditional press medium” (Spinelli & Santos, 2018, p. 762).

On the other hand, “fake news” concern information conveyed as being legitimate, and which may even have some degree of truth or truthful dimension in it, but that is mostly composed of deception (e.g., an exaggerated, manipulated and/or decontextualized conclusion). It aims to alert the public to some situation in particular, by eliciting emotions and precipitating some sort of uprising against the person or entity who is being delegitimized (Paula, Silva, & Blanco, 2018). There are other interests behind the creation and dissemination of such false information, though, such as simply creating disinformation, or influencing the acquisition of certain goods, for instance. In Portugal, this phenomenon strikes especially against celebrities, soccer players, television hosts, and politicians, according to Paulo Pena, a journalist who writes newspaper reports on this topic on Diário de Notícias, a newspaper with high circulation in Portugal (February 2019). As an example, we may refer to a news story about an alleged 20 million Euro watch worn by Catarina Martins, the national coordinator of the Bloco de Esquerda party (Left Bloc), which turned out to be false.

Given the proliferation of disinformation, it is not surprising that the Portuguese parliament has very recently approved, by majority of votes, a draft resolution that recommends that the Government should adopt measures to implement the European Action Plan against Disinformation in Portugal (Lusa, March 2019; Plenary session record of March 6th, 2019). Indeed, in November 2018, another Diário de Notícias newspaper report by journalist Paulo Pena had disclosed a group of Portuguese “fake news” websites (“fake news factories”), with more than two million followers. Bombeiros 24 horas (which can be translated as “24-hour Firefighters”), with about 300.000 followers, is an example. The author’s (or authors’) identity remains secret; nevertheless s/he (they) receive(s) big bucks from publicity money from Google.

Yet, in the meanwhile, in light of Eurobarometer data divulged in November 2018 by the Portuguese high circulation newspaper Público (February 2019), most Portuguese people show to be less aware of being exposed to “fake news”, less capable of identifying “fake news”, and less willing to consider “fake news” a problem in their country and to the functioning of democracy, when compared to the average 28 EU member countries. These data may be significant if we consider that the fight against disinformation is indeed a democratic matter, therefore, a reason of concern for all who access and share information, and thus are responsible for fact checking before accepting and sharing. In face of the aforementioned, how can people become aware of disinformation and develop resources to examine information?

 

The relevance of Critical Thinking for an informed citizenship

Seeing that disinformation does affect democracy, it is crucial that individuals develop a sense of informed citizenship, which entails media literacy (Oliveira & Caetano, 2017). Nonetheless, there are other resources - even more basic ones than media literacy - that are required for one to be able to be more than a mere passive consumer of information, someone who is able and willing to discriminate legitimate information by credible sources from false information by ill-intended sources. We refer to Critical Thinking.

Critical Thinking, although the variety of definitions used today, can be defined as a rational and reflective way of thinking that integrates capacities, dispositions, knowledge and norms, to decide what to believe or what to do, to find explanations, make informed decisions or solve problems (Ennis, 2011; Franco, Vieira, & Saiz, 2017). As said, a critical thinker can be described as someone: (i) inquisitive; (ii) well-informed; (iii) rigorous; (iv) rational; (v) innovative; (vi) prudent; (vii) willing to consider seriously other points of view rather than his/her own, and to reconsider his/her standing; (viii) diligent in the search for relevant information; (ix) persistent in the pursuit of results; and (x) consciously analytic and capable of  judging arguments, inferring from them in an integrated, dynamic, sensitive, and competent way (Ennis, 2011; Facione, 2010).

The value of the listed abilities and dispositions to act in a critical way are easily recognized as one of the most important key ingredients for personal fulfillment and for academic success. In fact, one of the main goals of education is to develop independent and critical thinkers (Halpern, 2014; OECD, 2018). Besides being vital resources for one’s personal and academic life, a recent study shows that employers require their employees to demonstrate a “well-educated way of thinking (…) willingness to learn and improve anchored on a set of interdependent cognitive and propensive aspects allowing them not only to anticipate and be ready for any situation, but also to regulate and monitor their own thinking and behavior” (Dominguez, 2018, p. v). This profile speaks for itself and shows that Critical Thinking is as a powerful resource in the professional sphere. However, it has become even more relevant today due to the proliferation of “fake news” that require people to be able to distinguish facts from opinions, and to evaluate the credibility of the information, a mindset that enables a more conscious citizenship.

An efficient strategy that can be used to mobilize Critical Thinking for an informed citizenship is to focus on some major criteria such as, for example, to judge the credibility of a source that can help evaluate aspects like: (i) expertise; (ii) lack of conflict of interest; (iii) agreement with other sources; (iv) reputation; (v) use of established procedures; (vi) known risk to reputation (the source’s knowing of a risk to reputation, if wrong); (vii) ability to give reasons; and (viii) careful habits (Ennis, 2011). When accessing information, for instance, when facing a certain news item, the following procedures may be useful to evaluate if it regards a legitimate or a false piece of information, such as: (i) to read the news item fully; (ii) to check the date and context in which that news item is placed; (iii) to identify the main topic; (iv) to find the key arguments presented in favor of that main topic; (v) to scrutinize the credibility of the source of the news item (e.g., the degree of the author/s qualification to present the information, information presented from a neutral and objective position); (vi) to examine what people/organizations are presented as authority figures to reinforce the news item; (vii) to reflect on the objective (e.g., intention of selling, persuading, inform, or entertain) and who might benefit with the dissemination of that news item; (viii) to question if the news item allows for the adversarial principle (when applicable); (ix) to search for counter-arguments, which also do not corroborate one’s own beliefs on that topic; (x) to explore if that same news item was disseminated by additional information means (e.g., can it be verified in another source? Are there references to support the evidence and can they be verified?) (Nisbett, 2016; Pena, 2011; Sapage, 2019).

Given its huge importance for an informed citizenship today, we present a proposal of a workshop that can be conducted to create awareness about Critical Thinking and its relevance in the context of Society of (Dis)Information, and also, to share strategies that can be used on a daily basis to think critically about information, its sources and intentions.

 

2. Aim

In this paper, we present a workshop entitled “The importance of critical thinking for an informed citizenship”, which was carried out at the fifth Congress on Literacy, Media, and Citizenship – Technology, Disinformation, and Ethics (http://www.congressolmc.pt/), held at University of Aveiro (Portugal), in May 2019. The three facilitators (who are also the authors of the present paper) were invited to conduct a workshop on Critical Thinking and informed citizenship in the context of current trends of “fake news” and disinformation. The target audience were teachers, researchers, journalists, policy makers, and citizens in general. Here, we present the outline of the workshop, as well as how it was evaluated by the participants.

 

3. Methods

Procedures and participants

The general goal of this 90-minute workshop was to raise participants’ awareness about the impact of (dis)information in their lives, and to support them in the identification of strategies to mobilize their Critical Thinking to analyze the news in their day-to-day. More specifically, the workshop aimed to lead participants to confront their personal conceptions about the great amount of (dis)information that they are exposed to on a daily basis, and to the need to analyze that information critically. Also, it aimed to challenge participants to become aware of the factors that are involved in the process of taking a stand and/or making a decision, while avoiding to be under the influence of biased external interests. Finally, the workshop aimed to support participants in identifying and practicing strategies to mobilize their Critical Thinking to scrutinize information, namely about everyday news, in the broader frame of an informed citizenship.

The following main topics were addressed, in a combination of moments for theoretical framework and practical activities (cf. Table 1): (i) the characteristics and processes of the (des)information society; (ii) the influences in the process of accessing and interiorizing information; (iii) “post-truth” and “fake news”; (iv) the relevance of Critical Thinking in the context of analysis of information and decision making; (v) strategies to mobilize Critical Thinking for an informed citizenship.

A group of 23 participants attended the workshop, from a variety of professions: teachers and professors, journalists, researchers, and librarians. Throughout the workshop, participants participated actively, answering the questions that were asked to start a guided reflection and asking questions about the topics under analysis. They were particularly participative during the practical activities that were proposed (e.g., practical activity #1 – cf. Table 1), and openly got involved in the workshop.Table 1 - Outline of the different moments in the workshop.

Moment

Outline

Welcome

Presentation of the workshop facilitators and general goals.

Teaser

Three news are presented, and participants are asked to choose the one they consider legitimate. This question will be resumed ahead in the workshop.

Theoretical framework #1

  • Characteristics of “V.U.C.A. world” and information/disinformation society;
  • Diversity of news’ means of publication (e.g., multimedia, hypermedia);
  • External and internal influences that mediate the access to information and the acceptance of the news without questioning them (e.g., personal beliefs, influence of friends/authority figures, entities with covert intentions to raise disinformation).

Practical activity #1

Participants are divided into groups, and a different press article is given to each group. Each group must identify if their press article is legitimate or fake, and to justify their position. A guided reflection is started to support participants in reflecting on how they inform themselves daily, what influences impact how they receive information, and the reasons why people often accept the news without questioning them.

Theoretical framework #2

  • The concepts of “post-truth” and “fake news”;
  • The interests that may motivate the creation and dissemination of “fake news”;
  • Combating disinformation as a democratic matter.

Practical activity #2

In the same groups, participants must write down two to three strategies that they consider important to perform the fact checking of information in their daily lives. A guided debate is started about the efficacy of the strategies identified by each group, in light of the evaluation criteria by Robert Ennis to judge the credibility of a source.

Theoretical framework #3

  • Informed citizenship;
  • Definition and relevance of critical thinking in the context of disinformation;
  • Example of a fact checking process.

Practical activity #3

The three news presented at the beginning of the workshop (teaser moment) are displayed again. In the same groups, participants must identify which one is fake, and present valid arguments (built according to the fact checking process explored previously) to ground their standing. Each participant must share what was her/his initial position about the credibility of the three news, and if it changed. Here, participants are asked to identify the critical thinking capacities, dispositions, and criteria they used to perform this practical activity.

Closure

Farewell to participants, with time to ask-answer questions, clarify doubts, and share useful information. Participants are asked to evaluate the workshop by filling in a paper-and-pencil questionnaire.

Table 1 - Outline of the different moments in the workshop.

 

Measure and scoring

At the closure of the workshop, participants were given a paper-and-pencil questionnaire (cf. Appendix A), adapted from a questionnaire used in the Science Experimental Teaching Formation Program for teachers (Martins, 2012), and asked to evaluate their degree of satisfaction (in a Likert scale ranging from 1 – Disappointing to 6 – Excellent) with the workshop in a set of 16 items/criteria, arranged in three dimensions:

  1. Organization: contents; content structure; interest of contents; adequacy of strategies; balance between theoretical and practical moments; length; and fulfilment of set goals.
  2. Facilitators: clarity; motivation and encouragement of participants’ involvement; interaction with participants; ability to clarify doubts; punctuality and compliance with the timetable.
  3. Overall evaluation: usefulness for personal development; usefulness for professional development; adequacy of contents to prior personal expectations; overall evaluation.

The questionnaire contained a fourth dimension, regarding suggestions, with three open-ended questions asking participants about: (i) what addressed topics would they have enjoyed to develop further; (ii) what addressed topics did they consider important to include in this kind of workshop; (iii) other comments/suggestions/questions they found relevant.

Finally, the questionnaire asked for a few sociodemographic data: age, gender, and job.

 

4. Results and discussion

Out of the 23 who participated in the workshop, 21 participants filled in and returned the questionnaire. A majority of this group of respondents was female (71.4%, n = 15), and respondents ranged in age from 24 to 64 years old (M = 50, SD = 8.53). The 20 respondents who identified their profession described themselves as teachers (n = 11), university professors (n = 2), journalists (n = 2), researchers (n = 1), librarians (n = 1), teachers/researchers (n = 1), journalists/researchers (n = 1), and teachers/librarians (n = 1).

Regarding the 16 items/criteria arranged in three dimensions, participants’ evaluation of the workshop was very positive overall, with the 5 – Very good and 6 – Excellent response options being the most popular ones among participants (cf. Table 2). Scores were mostly placed on the most positive pole of the assessment scale (Mdn = 6), and the Inter-Quartile Range was relatively small, ranging from 0.5 to 1 in most items/criteria (n = 15), which is a clear indication of consensus. The only exception was item/criteria 6 (IQR = 2), referring to the length of the workshop.

 

 

Assessment scale

Items

2. Not good enough

3.

Average

4.

Good

5. Very

Good

6.

Excellent

Organization

1 – Contents

-

-

9.5%

14.3%

76.2%

2 - Content structure

-

-

4.8%

19.0%

76.2%

3 - Interest of contents

-

-

-

14.3%

85.7%

4 - Adequacy of strategies

-

-

-

23.8%

76.2%

5 - Balance theory and practice

-

-

-

42.9%

57.1%

6 – Length

-

9.5%

23.8%

28.6%

38.1%

7 - Fulfilment of goals

-

-

-

42.9%

57.1%

Facilitators

8 – Clarity

-

-

-

9.5%

90.5%

9 - Motivation and encouragement

-

-

-

14.3%

85.7%

10 - Interaction with participants

-

-

4.8%

14.3%

81.0%

11 - Ability to clarify doubts

-

-

-

4.8%

95.2%

12 - Punctuality and compliance

4.8%

4.8%

9.5%

28.6%

52.4%

Overall

evaluation

13 - Personal development

-

-

9.5%

23.8%

66.7%

14 - Professional development

-

-

14.3%

19.0%

66.7%

15 - Adequacy content-expectation

-

-

4.8%

33.3%

61.9%

16 - Overall evaluation

-

-

-

33.3%

66.7%

 Table 2 -  Participants’ evaluation of the workshop (%).

 

The 1 – Disappointing response option was not chosen to evaluate any of the 16 items/criteria. As for the 2 – Not good enough and 3 – Averageresponse options, they were solely chosen for two items/criteria: “6 – Length of workshop”, and “12 – Punctuality and compliance with the timetable”. Two participants considered that the length of the workshop was insufficient in face of the relevance of the topic. In addition, two participants considered that the workshop facilitators were neither punctual nor compliant with the timetable. It should be noted that both situations were beyond the control of the facilitators: on the one hand, the time allotted to the workshop was decided by the Congress Organizing Committee; on the other hand, the workshop started with a 30-minute delay, resulting from the delay of the welcoming and opening sessions, which took place immediately before the workshop.

As for the suggestions provided by participants in the questionnaire’s final three open-ended questions, 15 participants provided written feedback. According to such input, participants state they would have enjoyed to develop further the following topics: Critical Thinking (n = 4); how to detect and deconstruct “fake news” (n = 3); how to judge the credibility of sources (n = 2); how to filter “fake news” from legitimate ones in due course (n = 1); the political and ethical aspects associated to the topic of the workshop (n = 1); how to develop elementary school students’ Critical Thinking (n = 1); how to inform citizens (n = 1); citizenship (n = 1). Regarding what addressed topics participants consider important to include in this kind of workshop, the following were stressed: all topics addressed in the workshop (n = 2); how to detect “fake news” (n = 2); the ethical aspects associated to this topic (n = 1). Overall, one participant found the workshop Excellent! (participant #2), one participant wrote Congratulations! (participant #9), and another claimed that Everything was very interesting, time was scarce for the workshop, extremely important for us all (participant #12). Indeed, another participant mentioned that time was not enough. Four participants suggested that the facilitators should make the PowerPoint presentation available at the Congress website, so they could access it and continue reflecting on the topics approaches throughout the workshop.

 

5. Final considerations

In a time when individuals are confronted with great amounts of information, which is created and disseminated swiftly and uninterruptedly, it is essential for one to be capable of and willing to sort out which information is legitimate and conveyed by credible sources whose job is to inform, and which is fabricated and conveyed by covert entities who wish to disseminate disinformation. In this scenario, Critical Thinking is fundamental. Instead of having her/his thinking set to “belief mode”, a critical thinker will be willing and capable of asking questions, searching for more information, identifying credible sources and legitimate information, being open to question personal beliefs and cognitive bias, among many other dispositions and abilities, all the while thinking according to criteria based on precision and validity, and on the grounds of knowledge. For this reason, initiatives such as the workshop presented in this paper may be helpful, not only to create awareness about Critical Thinking and its relevance in the context of Society of (Dis)Information, but also, to share strategies on how to think critically about information. According to the participants’ evaluation of the workshop, it is “extremely important for us all” to reflect and gain more knowledge on topics such as Critical Thinking and how to examine information.

 

 

Questionário de Avaliação da Oficina

“A importância do pensamento crítico para uma Cidadania informada”

Este questionário visa recolher a sua opinião enquanto participante nesta oficina. A sua avaliação é muito importante para nos ajudar a identificar e implementar os aspetos que devem ser melhorados em oficinas futuras. Agradecemos que assinale (com um círculo ou uma cruz), para cada dimensão identificada, qual a opção (entre 1 a 6) que traduz o seu grau de satisfação, utilizando a seguinte escala:

D – SUGESTÕES:

17. Que tema(s) abordado(s) nesta oficina gostaria de ter aprofundado?

________________________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________________

18. Que tema(s) tratados considera importante(s) incluir numa oficina desta natureza?

________________________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________________

19. Outros comentários / sugestões / questões que considere pertinentes:

________________________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________________

E – DADOS SOCIODEMOGRÁFICOS:


20. Idade:___________ anos

21. Género: Femnino: ___ | Masculino: ___ | Outro: ___ (Assinale uma cruz no espaço correspondente)

22. Profissão: _________________________

Muito obrigado!


 

 


[*] This paper, in the context of the postdoctoral research project of Amanda Franco (SFRH/BPD/122162/2016) and of the doctoral research project of Ana Sofia Sousa (SFRH/BD/130582/2017), is financially supported by National Funds through FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, I. P., under the project UID/CED/00194/2019.

[1] CIDTFF – University of Aveiro (Portugal):  Este endereço de email está protegido contra piratas. Necessita ativar o JavaScript para o visualizar.

[2] CIDTFF – University of Aveiro (Portugal):  Este endereço de email está protegido contra piratas. Necessita ativar o JavaScript para o visualizar.

[3] CIDTFF – University of Aveiro (Portugal):  Este endereço de email está protegido contra piratas. Necessita ativar o JavaScript para o visualizar.

 

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