Inclusive Teaching

Implicit Bias

inclusive teaching banner_FINALby Sandy Gambill, Sr. Instructional Developer, Reinert Center

Implicit bias is not a new concept, as the 28,100,000 returns on a Google search demonstrate. However, it is a concept that is being discussed in a wide range of situations lately, including the first presidential debate [LINK] of the 2016 election cycle.

Harvard’s Project Implicit [LINK] offers perhaps the most straightforward definition of implicit bias as “thoughts and feelings that exist outside of conscious awareness or conscious control.”

Established in 1998, Project Implicit seeks to “educate the public about hidden biases and to provide a ‘virtual laboratory’ for collecting data on the Internet.” It offers a variety of online implicit association tests (IAT) available to the general public to help uncover hidden biases and preferences about race, gender, age, disability, and sexual orientation. There is also sometimes a “Featured Task,” which is currently a “Presidential Candidate Association Task.”

An IAT typically begins with asking you to answer questions relating to your explicit opinions on the subject of the test. From there you are asked to categories items related to the test subject in a group as quickly as you can, using the e and i keys on your keyboard.

If you have never taken an IAT, it can be a little challenging. Sometimes, it feels more like I’m having difficulty with controlling my reflexes than making a choice. In fact, that is something the Project has studied and addresses in its FAQ [LINK], which explain more about how the testing works and what your results might mean.

So how do we reduce implicit bias in our everyday lives and in our classrooms? Verna Myers urges us to “walk boldly [LINK]towards them.” As the Reinert Center continues its examination of Inclusive Teaching practices this year, we will be posting classroom-specific ideas here in this blog and sharing tips and resources in our Inclusive Teaching Resources page [LINK]. SLU faculty interested in exploring these issues in more depth may wish to participate in our faculty book group on Claude Steele’s Whistling Vivaldi (click here to register [LINK]).

If you have practical suggestions for identifying and reducing implicit bias in the classroom, please share them in the comments section.


Project Implicit [LINK]

The Berkeley Blog [LINK]

Verna Myers TED Talk  [LINK]

How to Fight Your Own Implicit Biases [LINK]