Ways to avoid inherited bias
Inherited bias in instructional design refers to the unconscious biases that exist in the creators of educational materials that can influence the content and delivery of information. Inherited bias can take the form of unequal representation of certain groups, the perpetuation of stereotypes, and the enforcement of cultural norms that are not inclusive. Inherited bias in instructional design can limit student potential by presenting an incomplete or stereotypical view of the world that does not accurately reflect the experiences and perspectives of all students, which can lead to several adverse student outcomes such as:
- Limitation of student potential
By presenting an incomplete or stereotypical view of the world, students may be discouraged from pursuing their interests and passions or may feel that they do not belong in particular fields.
- Discouraging the pursuit of interests and passions
If students don’t see themselves represented in the materials, they may not be encouraged to pursue their interests and passions, limiting their potential for success.
- Cultivating feelings of isolation
When students do not see their own experiences and perspectives in the materials, they can feel isolated and disconnected from the learning process, making it difficult for them to engage and succeed.
- Maintaining stereotypes and social norms
If learning materials perpetuate negative stereotypes and cultural norms, students may internalize these biases and develop limiting beliefs about themselves and others, limiting their potential for success.
- Weakening of critical thinking
If learning materials present an incomplete or biased view of the world, students may develop a limited understanding of the subject and be less able to think critically about it.
- Reinforcement of social inequalities
By perpetuating negative stereotypes and cultural norms, teaching materials can reinforce existing social inequalities and contribute to systemic discrimination.
- Reduced student engagement
Students who do not feel represented or feel that their experiences and perspectives are not valued are less likely to engage and retain knowledge.
- Impairment of student learning
Bias in instructional design can affect the accuracy of information presented and perpetuate misinformation.
- Widening the achievement gap
Students from underrepresented groups may struggle to succeed in educational environments that do not reflect their experiences or values, leading to a widening achievement gap.
Overall, inherited bias in instructional design can limit student potential by presenting an incomplete or stereotyped view of the world, fostering feelings of isolation, perpetuating negative stereotypes, and impairing critical thinking. Instructional designers must be aware of their biases and strive to create educational materials that accurately represent the experiences and perspectives of all students.
1. Diversify your resources
Identify different perspectives and experiences to inform your teaching materials. Examples of how to diversify resources in Instructional Design include:
- Incorporating material from various authors and experts
Rather than relying solely on materials from one or a few sources, instructional designers can broaden their scope by incorporating materials from authors and experts from a variety of fields. Instructional designers can incorporate materials from authors and experts from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, religions, and cultures.
- Consultation with various stakeholders
Instructional designers can work with teachers, administrators, students, parents, and community leaders to gain diverse perspectives and incorporate diverse viewpoints into their materials.
- Drawing from a range of media
Instructional designers can incorporate a variety of media, including books, articles, videos, podcasts, and online resources, to provide diverse content.
- Using different teaching methods
Instructional designers can incorporate a variety of instructional methods, including project-based learning, collaborative learning, and experiential learning, to provide students with a variety of learning opportunities.
- Providing representation in images and graphics
Instructional designers can ensure that images and pictures used in materials reflect diverse individuals and groups, including different races, genders, abilities, and backgrounds.
- Incorporating a range of perspectives and experiences
Instructional designers may strive to include diverse viewpoints and experiences in their materials, including those that may be underrepresented or marginalized.
- Providing examples and scenarios relevant to different groups of learners
Instructional designers can offer samples and scenarios that reflect the experiences and backgrounds of diverse student populations, including those with different cultural, linguistic, or socioeconomic backgrounds.
2. Collaborate with different groups
Work with individuals from diverse backgrounds to get feedback on your learning materials and ensure they are culturally sensitive. Examples of collaboration with different groups in Instructional Design include:
- Working with teachers from different backgrounds
Instructional designers can work with teachers from diverse backgrounds and experiences to gain insight into the needs of diverse student populations and develop more inclusive and practical materials for all students.
- Consultation with community groups
Instructional designers can consult with community groups such as cultural organizations, religious groups, and advocacy organizations to better understand the needs and perspectives of different student populations.
- Working with parents and families
Instructional designers can work with parents and families to better understand students’ needs and experiences outside the classroom and create materials that are more relevant and meaningful to their lives.
- Cooperation with students
Instructional designers can work with students to gain insight into their learning experiences and preferences and co-create more engaging and practical materials for them.
- Embrace cultural humility
Be open to learning about different cultures, perspectives and experiences and try to understand the needs of all students.
Diversifying resources in instructional design is essential to ensure that students have access to a range of perspectives and experiences, which can lead to more inclusive and impactful learning experiences.
Regularly reflect on your biases and assumptions
Self-reflection is an essential part of instructional design because it allows designers to critically examine their own biases and assumptions and the impact of their materials on different student populations. Self-reflection can lead to more inclusive and impactful learning experiences for all students. Examples of self-reflection in instructional design include:
- Reflecting on personal biases and assumptions
Instructional designers can reflect on their preferences and beliefs to identify potential areas where they can introduce bias into their materials.
- Exploring the diversity of materials and sources used
Instructional designers can think about the diversity of materials and resources they use and strive to expand the range of perspectives and voices represented.
- Analysis of the impact of instructional materials on different student populations
Instructional designers can consider how a diverse student population may perceive their materials and how they can ensure that all students feel included and supported.
- Obtaining feedback from colleagues and stakeholders
Instructional designers can receive feedback from peers and stakeholders such as teachers, students, and community members to gain insight into how their materials are perceived and identify areas for improvement.
Conduct regular assessments
Regularly evaluate your materials for evidence of bias and make necessary changes to promote inclusivity. Examples of regular assessments in instructional design include:
- Gathering feedback from teachers, students and other stakeholders
Instructional designers can receive feedback from teachers, students, and other stakeholders to evaluate the effectiveness and inclusiveness of their materials and identify areas for improvement.
- Performing usability testing
Instructional designers can conduct usability testing to evaluate how easy and intuitive their materials are to use and identify any potential areas where students may struggle or become confused.
- Analyzing student performance data
Instructional designers can analyze student performance data to evaluate how well their materials are helping students achieve learning objectives and identify areas where students may be struggling or falling behind.
- Evaluation of the effectiveness of teaching methods
Instructional designers can assess the effectiveness of different teaching methods, such as collaborative learning, project-based learning, and experiential learning, to determine which strategies are most effective for different groups of students.
Addressing inherited biases in instructional design requires designers to be mindful of their preferences and consciously promote inclusivity, cultural sensitivity, and diversity in their materials. Using these techniques, instructional designers can work to create educational materials. Stay informed about the latest research and best practices that are inclusive, culturally sensitive, and free of inherited biases to promote diversity and inclusivity in instructional design.