University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee Campus



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New director appointed to USF’s critical thinking certificate program at Sarasota-Manatee campus

The University of South Florida has named Helene Robinson, an instructor in the College of Education, as director of the Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking certificate program (IBCT) at the Sarasota-Manatee campus.

Helene Robinson

Helene Robinson, EdD

“I am very excited about this opportunity because my background and experience align perfectly with this program, which is important both to students and the Sarasota-Manatee business and nonprofit community,” Robinson said.

Now in its fifth year, the IBCT program is a highly successful, interdisciplinary initiative focused on enhancing problem-solving skills to drive creativity and innovation.

The program includes more than 40 IBCT-certified courses taught by nearly two dozen faculty from the Sarasota-Manatee campus, offering courses to students as well as businesses and nonprofit organizations to develop critical-thinking skills.

“Our students have learned important critical-thinking skills as part of this program, and we are pleased to offer customized courses to local businesses and community organizations for their employees,” said Karen A. Holbrook, regional chancellor at the Sarasota-Manatee campus. “Regardless of the industry, every organization seeks people who can think critically, analyze situations and develop solutions to challenges.”

The program teaches the following principles of critical thinking:

• Formulating vital questions and problems clearly
• Gathering and assessing relevant information
• Identifying relevant assumptions, alternatives and implications
• Developing well-reasoned conclusions and solutions
• Communicating reasoning effectively

IBCT-certified instructors introduce these principles to select courses across multiple academic disciplines. Students can achieve critical thinking certificates by earning 12 credits in IBCT-certified courses. Outreach efforts to companies and nonprofit include on-campus workshops to help employees enhance their critical-thinking skills. 

“Critical thinking continues to serve as one of the most sought-after skills for employers,” said Greg Smogard, assistant vice president of innovation and business development at the Sarasota-Manatee campus. “Preparing students to enter the workplace is one of the primary missions of the university, and by providing our students with critical-thinking skills we are equipping them with the tools to succeed. In addition, this program can serve as a valuable tool for employers as they focus on enhancing the skills of their workers.”

Robinson currently serves as curriculum coordinator of the campus’ arts integration program in the College of Education and teaches Instruction for Exceptional & Diverse Students and Teaching Critical & Creative Thinking Using Arts Integration. She’ll continue to serve in those roles as she moves forward overseeing the IBCT.

She replaces Michael Gillespie, an associate professor of psychology, who will remain as a program advisor.

Robinson joined the Sarasota-Manatee faculty in 2013 as an assistant professor. In addition to serving in the College of Education, she is an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Women & Gender Studies.

She said she has a busy agenda ahead as she looks to implement changes to the IBCT. An expert in applied behavioral analysis and the creative design process, Robinson said she hopes to introduce elements of the creative design process to the program.

“I’ve been a firm believer in this program since it began and as it has evolved over the years,” Robinson said. “I teach arts integration, which focuses on the creative design process, and I believe that many elements of arts integration are applicable to critical thinking, and I look forward to introducing these elements to the program.”

She also looks forward to working with campus faculty to increase the number of IBCT-certified instructors and collaborating with employers to host more critical-thinking and creative-design workshops.

She hopes as well to secure more program funding and to reach out to student veterans, veterans’ organizations and professionals from health services, the arts, education, mental health, criminology and other disciplines.

Students and employers can learn more about the campus’ IBCT program by visiting the IBCT webpage. Look for upcoming updates about enhancements to the program.

To learn more about the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, visit

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