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Can you be prejudiced against your own students? Measuring teacher’s unconscious bias in the classroom

Can You be Prejudiced Against Your Own Students? Measuring Teacher’s Unconscious Bias in
the Classroom
Ali H. Al-Hoorie
Paper Presented at the IAFOR International Conference
(January 8–11, 2016, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA)
This presentation aims to familiarize the audience with 1) the concept of implicit (i.e.,
unconscious) attitudes, 2) their significance to the educational process, and 3) how to measure
First, I will explain what implicit attitudes are and how that are different from explicit attitudes.
This will show that explicit and implicit attitudes can be in conflict with respect to a single topic,
and that implicit attitudes can sometimes override explicit attitudes.
Second, I will play a short video demonstrating a psychological experiment, which will highlight
the significance of implicit attitudes in the classroom. This includes the teacher’s possible
implicit biases against, for example, people of color, gender, and age, including migrants and
refugees. Again, this can happen by overriding the individual’s existing egalitarian attitudes at
the explicit level. I will then discuss possible ways to counteract the effect implicit attitudes,
including awareness of one’s implicit biases, being vigilant in contexts where bias is likely to
occur, and how to ‘research oneself’.
Finally, the session will end with a hands-on activity in which attendees will be given handouts
of the paper-and-pencil version of the Implicit Association Test (IAT). This aims to offer a first-
hand experience of the nature of implicit attitudes for interested attendees. Attendees will also be
referred to an online website where they can access these tests anonymously and free of charge.
By the end of this presentation, I hope to have raised awareness of how implicit attitudes have
practical significance to language teachers, teacher educators, and students.
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