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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Education (also CAGS)

Year Degree Awarded

2017

Month Degree Awarded

May

First Advisor

Kathryn McDermott

Second Advisor

Lisa Keller

Third Advisor

Linda Tropp

Subject Categories

Elementary Education and Teaching | Teacher Education and Professional Development

Abstract

Research Goals/Questions

Colleges of Education, through educator preparation programs, have applied a scattershot approach to addressing diversity through multicultural teacher education programs. These programs have not been shown to reduce bias levels in pre-service teachers and are not systematic or uniform. (King & Butler, 2015). This study focuses on an alternative approach to preparing pre-service teachers to work with diverse populations. It measured the levels of implicit bias in a sample population of pre-service teachers and attempt to reduce their implicit bias levels. The aim of the dissertation was to answer the following questions:

  1. Can a brief, computer-based intervention decrease the level of implicit bias and increase awareness of bias in preservice teachers?
  2. How does receiving their IAT scores affect preservice teachers’ experience with an intervention about implicit bias?
  3. What can be learned from the implementation of an intervention in this setting that could be integrated in the larger context of Teacher Education?
  4. In what ways can the interview data reporting on participants’ perceptions of the intervention help explain the quantitative results of the Implicit Association Test.
  5. What can survey questions and open responses reveal about preservice teachers’ awareness of their own bias before and after a brief computer based intervention?

Research Methods

The dissertation established the levels of implicit bias in this sample of preservice teachers and their response to a habit reduction intervention. An explanatory sequential mixed methodology was used, and it involved collecting quantitative data first and then explaining the quantitative results with in-depth qualitative data. In the first, quantitative phase of the study, the Implicit Association Test (IAT) was used to collect data from 45 pre-service teachers to assess implicit bias and to test the impact of the IAT. In conjunction with the intervention, participants were asked to connect their field experiences with the strategies offered in the intervention. The second, qualitative phase was conducted as a follow up to the intervention to help explain the quantitative results. The qualitative phase included interviews with study participants.

Results

Pre-service teachers, in this population, were found to have higher levels of implicit bias on the as measured by the IAT in comparison to those in the general population. Although the results were not statistically significant after the administration of the intervention, there was a decrease in IAT scores for all participants. Those participants who did not receive their IAT scores or feedback before the intervention had a greater downward trend in IAT scores. Survey questions within the intervention showed differences between conditions on feelings about the IAT and the academic and discipline performance of students of color. Survey questions and interviews revealed which bias reduction strategies participants felt they could apply in their current and future teaching careers.

Contributions

Through the implementation of an intervention it is possible to create a downward trend in IAT scores. The study offers Colleges of Educations a point at which to begin addressing implicit bias in pre-service teachers.

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