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Getting Past Confirmation Bias

Getting Past Confirmation Bias

Teaching isn’t easy, even less so when there are confirmation biases to overcome.Notepad with the handwritten heading "Confirmation Bias"

Put simply, confirmation bias is how we tend to look for information that confirms what we already believe and reject what might contradict it. Confirmation bias can affect the classroom on many levels.

  1. Students may have preconceived ideas about the course content. Instructors might creatively bypass this, for instance, by reframing discussion questions, asking a student to present a view that they disagree with rather than their own.
  2. Students may have preconceived ideas about what counts as good teaching and a good teacher. We may want to introduce innovation, but students may view it with suspicion. So innovation might be best introduced slowly.
  3. We as instructors may also have preconceived notions about what makes for quality teaching, such as the largely debunked idea of learning styles. We might avoid this by continually ensuring our teaching is actually evidence-based.

One way to help ensure evidence-based practice is through the micro-courses and resources offered by Learning Design. Look out next month for a new course on debunking learning myths and urban legends! And if you have any questions, always feel free to reach out to us at learning_design@davidsondavie.edu.