Examining instructor bias

Scholarship and academic writing is rife with bias. For example, as Tukufu Zuberi explains,

What does it mean when a researcher writes something like, “The effect of being Black on mortality is equivalent to over five years of increased age?” In this hypothetical case does the author mean that the “effect of being black” refers to the color of the person’s skin, in which case the blacker the person the more intense the impact, or do they mean to imply that Black persons have a higher propensity to engage in some particular behavior? In both of these cases race, not racial relations, is seen as the causal factor, and in both cases the researcher’s answer is not based on the data.” (White Logic, White Methods: Racism and Methodology, 2008: 6)

The work of Zuberi and Eduardo Bonilla-Silva has led to the development of many examples of applying critical race theory to quantitative science (a.k.a., “quantcrit”).

As we implement tools to create community, activate diversity, and encourage brave intellectual discussion, a crucial companion practice is to gain awareness of our own biases and maintain efforts to reduce them. Observe how you (and your discipline) tell stories; cultivate mindfulness; cultivate greater awareness of your power and privilege; and create opportunities for people to tell their own stories (Dena Simmons). Avoid coming to your course with a deficit model. Recognize diverse forms of intellectual expression. The programming of UConn’s cultural centers provides an excellent way to develop an appreciation for the contributions and experiences of diverse cultural groups while building community with students.

Stereotypes are a common form of bias that affects student learning outcomes. Negative stereotypes are well known, but positive stereotypes, too, may impede effective teaching. Asian-American and Asian students, for example, contend with the stereotype of not needing academic support, and this may affect their use of instructional resources.  While there are many others, here are some resources for establishing a practice of reflecting on and mitigating the most common instructor biases:

Bias awareness

Teaching While White

Ableism and Accessibility

The resources below focus on bias. For guidance and suggestions for creating an accessible course, please go to the Creating Accessible Courses section.

Linguistic Bias

Bias and exclusion in assessment https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/effective-classroom-management/an-anti-racist-form-of-assessment-the-c-a-p-model-creative-academic-practical/