Implicit Bias

Implicit Bias


CREATING AN ENGAGING & INCLUSIVE ENVIRONMENT (read more: pp 34 - 40 in the JITT Guide)

WHAT IS IT?What is it?

Implicit bias is defined as the “attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.  Activated involuntarily, without awareness or intentional control.  Can be either positive or negative.  Everyone is susceptible” (Kirwan Report, 2017).1

Within a higher education context, these biases often appear in the form of harmful stereotyping, particularly when it comes to perceived academic ability, identity, or viewpoint.  For example, some instructors may unconsciously believe that certain groups are not as capable as others, which may unconsciously influence classroom interactions (Ambrose et al., 2010).


All of us can engage in this type of “unthinking discrimination” without even being aware.  Still, implicit bias has the potential to impact behavior, yet is malleable and can be “unlearned.”

This matters because cumulative effects can translate to: marginalized or under-utilized potential and talent; retention in classes or fields-of-study; and inhibited team work and collaboration (Wilkerson, 2013; Keng et al., 2012; Dasgupta, 2013; Roos, et al., 2013).

DATA …Data

  • 65%of UCD students agree (or strongly agree) that they feel comfortable with the climate for diversity and inclusion in their classes.
  • 68%report that they have often (or very often) experienced being treated equitably and fairly by faculty (UCUES, 2018).


  • Examine your personal assumptions of the students’ background, prior knowledge, and experience.

  • Acknowledge the unique identities, experiences, strengths, and needs of your students, embracing student diversity as an asset and celebrating the physical and perceived differences (e.g., a safe space where differences are not only respected, but also honored and valued).

  • Acknowledge, respect, and make multiple identities visible and represented in course materials (See UCD Principles of Community).

  • Emphasize the range of identities and backgrounds of experts who have contributed to your discipline.

  • Structure class interactions by providing goals, procedures, and processes to ensure they do not reinforce existing patterns of privilege.




  • “When PowerPoint slides and class videos show people who look like me, I feel more like I belong.”
  • “When I am able to work with professors and other students who know my name and show respect for my unique identity, I spend more time on my learning.”


  • What photos and pictures do you include in your slide decks?
  • How do your expectations vary for different subgroups of your students?
  • How do you make connections between your students, your discipline, and scholarly communities?
  • 1. List of all references in the complete JITT Guide.