As increasing emphasis in higher ed is placed on learning outcomes, assessment, accreditation, and accessibility, it might feel burdensome or overwhelming for some instructors to be asked to incorporate anything else into their teaching practices. However, this doesn’t have to be the case! In our student-centered approach to education, we must take into account how our existing practices and teaching tools may incorporate unconscious bias that could disadvantage certain students.
Here are some places to begin thinking about how you might want to incorporate anti-racism and anti-bias in your courses:
- Incorporate diverse voices. Do the authors and creators of your primary texts and other learning materials reflect the diversity that exists in our student population and in our world? There are subject matter experts of color in practically every academic field. How do you use their voices in your courses? One way to ensure a greater diversity of voices and a reduction in barriers to access is to use open educational resources.
- Be mindful of the tech tools you use in your courses. What are your expectations for student use of these tools? For example, do you require students to keep their cameras on during synchronous Zoom sessions? “That involves a lot of assumptions around wifi and broadband access, but also an assumption about how comfortable a student feels inviting their entire class into their learning space.”
- Recognize your own implicit biases and racial illiteracy. Do your subjective evaluations allow for unconscious bias against students of color or other marginalized students? Do you sometimes expect students of color to speak for entire racial or ethnic groups in class? Do policies related to testing, late work, and grading potentially disadvantage certain students who have varying personal struggles and life situations?
- Use rubrics to evaluate student work. Recent evidence suggests that “evaluation rubrics may be a powerful tool in mitigating bias and improving fairness in the way we measure student learning.”
- Practice empathy. It is important to understand your students’ perspectives, life experiences, and emotions. This can be accomplished through open lines of communication that allow students to feel comfortable asking for help when they need it. Recognize that students have higher rates of success when they feel supported.
Anti-racism and anti-bias work cannot begin and end in the classroom. Recognizing that each of us work within a larger organization, ask yourself: How are you working towards and advocating for institutional change? COLRS invites you to review these additional resources from the Center for Faculty Excellence for further ideas: