Sent on behalf of Dr. Grazyne Tresoldi, Assistant Professor in the College of Agriculture and READI Equity Fellow.
I assume we are all familiar with the equity biases in the student evaluations of teaching but are you aware of the implications of your own unconscious (implicit, hidden) biases?
I hadn’t thought much about it until I found this study published in the British Journal of Educational Psychology. In their research, teachers graded (similar) students’ written essays but were not blind to their ethnical and socioeconomic (SES) backgrounds. Essays associated with students from lower SES received lower ratings than those associated with higher SES. However, the number of objective errors identified was the same, suggesting the teacher’s judgments were biased. After this, I stumbled over many articles addressing this topic, including in STEM – where we are trained to be highly objective and thus less subjective. Our unconscious biases can only help perpetuate the inequalities and a patriarchal society.
As a person who truly enjoys knowing students at the personal level, I have implemented a few strategies to lessen the effects of this systemic problem.
- Recognize my own unconscious biases. I learned about the Implicit Association Test during the CSU Avoiding Bias in Hiring training. This free test can help you to explore your attitudes, beliefs, and biases toward marginalized groups. Becoming aware is the first step toward change!
- Use of anonymous grading. Both Canvas and Blackboard offer the option to hide student names during grading. If grading hard copies, I require a student ID number instead of names.
- Grading with rubrics. In addition to helping students evaluate their own work, rubrics help us to be more objective during grading. The British study above, suggested that teachers are more likely to revert to biased judgments when there is no clear evaluation rubrics.
What strategies have you implemented? I would love to hear what you do to promote more equitable grading!
Need help getting yourself started? Reach out! The READI hub is here to help you to implement EDI & antiracism teaching practices.