Develop critical thinking or 5 minutes to think hard

From fifteen video capsules, doctoral student Marianne Bissonnette has designed a web series intended for 9-12 year olds. The objective: to sharpen their critical sense.

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From around fifteen video capsules, doctoral student Marianne Bissonnette has designed a web series intended for 9-12 year olds. The objective: to sharpen their critical sense. The challenge: make them realize in 5 minutes that they do not believe everything they hear or see without thinking.

It all started when she completed her master's thesis in 2019 at UQÀM. Behind the highly doctoral title of "Portrait of the critical thinking skills of adolescents at the end of secondary school with regard to scientific information transmitted by Quebec media", his thesis co-supervisor Pierre Chastenay, professor in the didactics department , saw the media potential of his research. He therefore encouraged his student to obtain a research grant to popularize the results of his work.

Accustomed to the media, astronomer and host, Mr. Chastenay referred Marianne Bissonnette to Télé-Québec and a production company, Trio Orange, which embarked on the project. Production finally began in December 2020. Jean-Daniel Doucet participated in the scripting of the capsules, which were produced by Simon Lamontagne, to whom we owe, in particular, The adventures of the Pharmachien. Host and comedian Kevin Raphaël acts as narrator.

Marianne Bissonnette, right, and two participants during the filming of Pense fort. Credit: courtesy Marianne Bissonnette


Since February 26, Télé-Québec's SQUAT platform has been hosting first capsules of the web series Think hard. At a time when false news is rife, Marianne Bissonnette's project shows young people the importance of checking their sources.

Each episode contains a fun experience. This aims to show young people that certain cognitive biases as well as preconceived ideas and shortcuts in thinking "can tint their decisions and their social interactions", explains the doctoral student. At the end of the capsule, the participants go “to the confessional” and summarize what they have learned from the experience. They are sometimes speechless when faced with the responses or behaviors they have had during the experience.

Among the topics covered, we find prejudices, our mind's selection of information that suits us rather than the truth, the importance of first impressions, the bias of the present or trust in pseudo-specialists. 

In class

Marianne Bissonnette hopes that her web series will be used by teachers with their students, if only to start a discussion. The topics in the series will of course be of interest to ethics teachers, but teachers in other disciplines could learn from them. A capsule deals in particular with the budget, so why not in mathematics?

Will there be a season two? “Honestly, we're not there yet. One thing is certain, the UQÀM doctoral student has enough material to produce other capsules.

Dimension (s) of digital competence related to this article
11- Develop critical thinking with regard to digital technology

To see the Framework.

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About the Author

André Magny
André Magny
For more than 30 years, André Magny has been going back and forth between journalism and teaching French to teenagers and adults alike. Freelance freelance writer for various media including Francopresse, he was also a cultural journalist at Law in Ottawa and in charge of new technologies at Soleil de Québec. He also did sports journalism in France. He has a weakness for the Francophonie, culture, sports, cuisine and politics.

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