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Thread: Perception of bias

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    Korpsy Knievel's Avatar
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    Default Perception of bias

    http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2..._in_classrooms

    A regular theme in conservative critiques of higher education is that liberal professors discriminate against right-leaning students. Many faculty members (with studies to back them up) reject the charge. Even if faculty members may lean left, they argue, there is simply no evidence of systematic bias in how students are graded and treated.

    A new study in the journal College Teaching suggests that it's possible that some students do perceive bias, but that the reasons may have to do more with their own identities than with anything taking place in the classroom. Notably, the author does not cite his findings simply to rebut the conservative critics, but to suggest that there may be classroom techniques that would lessen the perception of bias.

    The study examined 148 female students and 123 male students at a land-grant university in the Southeast where political attitudes among students are fairly evenly split. The students were given two sets of questionnaires -- one on how settled and resistant to change they were (in politics and the rest of their lives) and the other on their perceptions of bias from their faculty members.

    The study found that students -- even in the same classrooms -- didn't perceive bias in the same ways (or at all), and those who perceived bias were those who were resistant to changing any of their views. The finding extended to some who identified themselves as being far on the left and resistant to change, and who believed that they had some biased conservative professors. But among both left-leaning and right-leaning students who didn't score high on resistance to new ideas, there was little perception of bias.

    Darren L. Linvill, the study's author and director of basic courses in the department of communication studies at Clemson University, said that while his research (including interviews with the students claiming bias) found no evidence of real bias, the findings about perception should be of concern to faculty members.

    Many faculty members -- himself included, Linvill noted -- play devil's advocate to many students, expressing a range of views. This time-tested classroom technique, he said, may not work with students who arrive in class determined not to hear new ideas. Linvill said that there may be elite colleges and universities where students arrive as freshmen used to having their views challenged by teachers, and that might still be "an ideal." But he said that the reality he sees from his research is that this is a foreign concept to many entering college students today.

    Linvill said he would not abandon devil's advocate approaches, but would be "as blatantly obvious as possible" that that's what's going on. Further, he said that he believes students will become more comfortable with their ideas being challenged if the first challenges come from fellow students -- with the professor, at the beginning, only following. Generally, he said that faculty members need to ease in more gradually to the kind of challenges that some may consider a key element of college teaching.

    Further, he said he tends to hold back his own political views (which he describes as moderate), and finds that doing so seems to increase the comfort level of all students with his challenging their ideas.

    Linvill said that his ideas come from the realization, when interviewing students who thought they experienced bias, that their feelings were very real but that their evidence was of "insensitive teaching, not politically biased teaching."

    — Scott Jaschik

    © Copyright 2011 Inside Higher Ed

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    Interesting.

    My first impulse is of course to say that anyone who gets their feelings hurt because someone disagrees with them should just leave. So I have a problem with teachers who are trying to teach being considered insensitive.

    And I'm trying to have sympathy for the opposite viewpoint, but I don't. It's college. If you go to class and find that the professor challenges your viewpoint too much, then don't take that class and take another one that will let you stew in your prejudices...
    Not a rule, just a trend.

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    So what's your point, k0rpsey? You must have a reason to start the thread, not merely post a random article.

    (I'm also interested in your understanding in what the article calls "left-learning" and "right-learning" - I don't know how to interpret them)
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Ineffable View Post
    So what's your point, k0rpsey? You must have a reason to start the thread, not merely post a random article.
    Be a good boy and I might throw you a bone.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Ineffable View Post
    (I'm also interested in your understanding in what the article calls "left-learning" and "right-learning" - I don't know how to interpret them)
    The article clearly says "left-leaning" and "right-leaning".

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    Quote Originally Posted by k0rpsey View Post
    Be a good boy and I might throw you a bone.
    No seriously, what do you mean? What's the point and what should people answer?
    Quote Originally Posted by k0rpsey View Post
    The article clearly says "left-leaning" and "right-leaning".
    Whoops, I misread that
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Ineffable View Post
    No seriously, what do you mean? What's the point
    A study examining perception of bias and resistance to novel or contrary ideas should be of general interest to habitues of a forum concerned with the psychological processing of information.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Ineffable View Post
    what should people answer?
    Fatuous question.

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    Quote Originally Posted by k0rpsey View Post
    A study examining perception of bias and resistance to novel or contrary ideas should be of general interest to habitues of a forum concerned with the psychological processing of information.
    Alright. I didn't see a clear conclusion, sounds like something interpretable. It's like "There are people who like jazz; there are people who don't like jazz. We asked 1k people whether they like jazz and some answered they like jazz and others answered that they don't like jazz. But some people who like jazz claim they don't like jazz, while some people who don't like jazz claim they do like jazz". I mean WTF, what's the point?

    Enlighten an ingnorant, I know that study is "examining" but what did you conclude? What's the big idea, that some people are "examining" other people's biases? Everyone knows that already.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Ineffable View Post
    Alright. I didn't see a clear conclusion, sounds like something interpretable. It's like "There are people who like jazz; there are people who don't like jazz. We asked 1k people whether they like jazz and some answered they like jazz and others answered that they don't like jazz. But some people who like jazz claim they don't like jazz, while some people who don't like jazz claim they do like jazz". I mean WTF, what's the point?

    Enlighten an ingnorant, I know that study is "examining" but what did you conclude? What's the big idea, that some people are "examining" other people's biases? Everyone knows that already.
    Comparing governing philosophies with the theory and practice of music is akin to swimming about astrobiology. However, in that light the study is more a matter of examining the accepting or rejecting attitudes of persons exposed to jazz for the first time after developing relationships and personally identifying with other musical forms. These tolerances and intellectual/emotional reactions to mental assimilation of jazz idioms would naturally be made against the foundational backdrop of individual apperception: experiential knowledge, culturally habituated preferences, and inherent psychological dispositions.

    Regarding the study as it is (or as the article reports, since I haven't read the source paper itself), it finds a correlation between resistance to novel ideas and perception of bias toward those who introduce them. In the context of the US educational system this often manifests as students or parents complaining that their views are being ignored so that instructors can impose their own ideological agendas*. Though it could be argued that the study's lack of evidence for actual classroom bias is an example of the fox guarding the henhouse, its findings point to a tendency among rigid-thinking individuals to externalize their frustrated inability to alter their views in light of new information, protesting unfair treatment when it's factually absent. Aesop's fable of the sour grapes proves psychological projection to be neither a new nor controversial idea, though certain parties are sure to balk at this study's assertion that "it's all in your head".

    * It's hardly a secret that the hegemonic party duopoly in American politics creates a highly polarized and antagonistic electorate, though parliamentary punch-outs, rioting, and coups in other countries show that the divisiveness of partisanship and identity politics isn't unique to the US.

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    I get it now. An alternate - and IMO more reasonable - explanation of this may be the following: the more they are convinced about their political beliefs, the more they feel obliged to reject opposite or mild views, because one is so forced into that "who's not with me is against me", especially in political environment in the USA. I personally think this is not necessarily projection, neither a resistance, these things may be correlated with that behavior because the study is focused exclusively on the political aspect, though they may not be necessarily the case otherwise.

    And BTW, "bias" is used improperly in this article, it is defined as leaning towards a side. That makes the assumption that all sides are wrong in their own ways, and people who adhere to one side - are necessarily biased, which is fallacious. Reducing this to a simple possibility, party A's agenda is 2+2=4 and party B's agenda is 2+2=5, if you make the assertion that adhering to one side is always a bias, you assume that believing a right view (2+2=4) is necessarily a bias, not true in itself, which is a wrong conclusion. Not saying that real life parties do not have biased agendas, just this definition is incorrect - in fact I never heard such thing before, that one's political opinion is necessarily a bias.

    Indeed in the USA the problem is harder than in places where this almost religious Good vs Evil view is not nourished. The parties lost their initial meaning (people share a common view, therefore they team together) but start of the clique itself (people team up and adhere to the party's view). The political ideas lost their meaning, they're merely titles forcibly distributed among the representatives. It feels kinda strange to read that liberalism is associated with left in that article. It's like "shop A sells vanilla+chocolate icecream, shop B sells banana+cherry icecream, therefore no icecream can be made out of banana+vanilla". Liberalism normally leans towards the right (in fact it opposes left and has no inherent incompatibility with the right), though of course, when the right is represented solely by conservatives, it fits better with the left, but that's not true liberalism anymore, it's rather social democracy, it fits only in several aspects and the liberal views are only relative to the other, more extreme side.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Ineffable View Post
    And BTW, "bias" is used improperly in this article, it is defined as leaning towards a side.
    It's perfectly legitimate since it correctly assumes that the US is politically divided between major 2 parties, the minor parties having negligible presence or effect on the national scale. You admit to as much with the following dichotomy:

    Quote Originally Posted by The Ineffable View Post
    Indeed in the USA the problem is harder than in places where this almost religious Good vs Evil view is not nourished.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Ineffable View Post
    Liberalism normally leans towards the right (in fact it opposes left and has no inherent incompatibility with the right), though of course, when the right is represented solely by conservatives, it fits better with the left, but that's not true liberalism anymore, it's rather social democracy, it fits only in several aspects and the liberal views are only relative to the other, more extreme side.
    Your "normal" is defined by your local political realities and personal opinions. The US hasn't had a viable socialist party since the 1920s. American communism, as far as I can tell, has never been anything more than a boogeyman said to be lurking beneath the beds of capitalistic children. I made a quick check earlier of the Romanian educational system and as I predicted, Romania's student protests have primarily been concerned with unseating communist officeholders, i.e. hard leftists, assumedly to replace them with relatively rightward social democrats and market capitalists (and I'll agree that this drive away from totalitarianism and toward individual self determinism and fair representation has more to do with classical liberalism). That stands in contrast to American student protests opposing the monopoly of power exercised by the traditionally right-wing US military-industrial complex. But most American "leftists", i.e. Democrats, are still to the right of the average European social democrat. And it's long since been acknowledged by anyone sane that "conservative"/"liberal" are historically decontextualized and bogus tribal identifiers in the US political sphere, used simply to pump oneself with in-group pride or cast aspersions on one's ideological foes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by k0rpsey View Post
    It's perfectly legitimate since it correctly assumes that the US is politically divided between major 2 parties, the minor parties having negligible presence or effect on the national scale. You admit to as much with the following dichotomy:
    I agree, I don't rule out the possibility, but that works only in practice, not in theory. One can't solve an equation by assigning an arbitrary value to x. Basically, my point is that although it's likely that all existing political agendas are biases, there is no justification to define them so. That assumption is a bias in itself.
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    I don't think right-wingers should whine about this.

    A college professor is naturally going to be left-leaning. That's just the raw pure organic nature of the profession. Just like....an army leader is naturally going to be a rightie.

    Everybody has their biases and preferences and you can't expect teachers to be perfect. They're only human just like the rest of us.

    Lefties want to empower the shy faggot in classrooms, and Righties want to empower the outgoing str8 male in the war fields....

    That's just what they want to do in life and their places.

    The problem it seems is that, people on both the far left and the far right just want to rule the whole world to have everything their way completely- whereas libertarians are more for having a balance and having all of nature include both things.

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    wants to be a writer. silverchris9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BulletsAndDoves View Post
    I don't think right-wingers should whine about this.

    A college professor is naturally going to be left-leaning. That's just the raw pure organic nature of the profession. Just like....an army leader is naturally going to be a rightie.

    Everybody has their biases and preferences and you can't expect teachers to be perfect. They're only human just like the rest of us.

    Lefties want to empower the shy faggot in classrooms, and Righties want to empower the outgoing str8 male in the war fields....
    . Agreed.
    Not a rule, just a trend.

    IEI. Probably Fe subtype. Pretty sure I'm E4, sexual instinctual type, fairly confident that I'm a 3 wing now, so: IEI-Fe E4w3 sx/so. Considering 3w4 now, but pretty sure that 4 fits the best.

    Yes 'a ma'am that's pretty music...

    I am grateful for the mystery of the soul, because without it, there could be no contemplation, except of the mysteries of divinity, which are far more dangerous to get wrong.

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