How to Break Biases when Teaching

Bias in predictive models — part 1/2 | by Stas Cherkassky | Towards Data  Science

Just like we mentioned in our article about Cognitive Biases, pre-built-in biases in your student’s minds can disrupt their learning experience. It can be difficult to break these biases when teaching, and it’s important to not just tell your students they’re wrong and move on. If a student is gonna learn to resist bias thinking, they have to do it themselves. In this post, we’ll give you 4 different ways you can address these biases in your classroom so students will learn to work past them. For each technique, we’ll provide an example from a Movie or TV Show to better illustrate our point.

Raise Awareness

Many students may be coming into the classroom with a limited worldview. This can lead them to develop biases of all kinds. A good way to eliminate these biases may just be to show them examples of different cultures and points of view. For example, in this clip from Footloose, the Reverend listens to Ren and then his daughter Ariel. He learns that they have a different way of looking at things that he should accept.

Provide Counter Examples

Students may continue to believe in their biases just because they haven’t seen an “exception to the rule”. If students are shown a good example of a counterpoint to their belief, they’re more likely to be accepting of that as another possibility. In this clip from Silicon Valley, Richard goes to apologize to his business associate’s personal trainer, Bryce, for being rude to him in a meeting. He is surprised to learn that Bryce is actually experienced with computers and may have presented some good advice. Richard learns that he shouldn’t have pre-judged him and assumed what Bryce could and couldn’t do.

Require Evidence to Support Answers

If a student still commits to their bias, you may ask them to think more rationally. One way to reinforce this is to ask for evidence to support their point. Always requiring evidence for supporting one’s points in classroom discussions can lessen the likelihood that students will develop one-sided bias as they’ll see multiple perspectives on different issues. In this clip from Moneyball, Pete shows Billy evidence that the other teams have been undervaluing players based on biased thinking. This allows Billy to make more well-rounded decisions and develop a better team.

Consider all Outcomes

One reason your students may still be committing to a bias is if they don’t see any other possible point of view. This technique is similar to providing a counter-example, but instead, you ask the student to think it through. In this clip from The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, Joan believes that a sword she found in the middle of a field was sent to her from god. But when she is presented with multiple examples of other ways that the sword could have ended up in the field, she starts to question her belief.

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