Teaching Commons > Teaching Guides > Inclusive Teaching > Implicit Bias
Biases can be either conscious or unconscious and can motivate people to act favorably or unfavorably towards groups of people:
Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald (2013) emphasize the hidden nature of implicit biases. They explain how hidden biases can plant “mindbugs,” or “ingrained habits of thought that lead to errors in how we perceive, remember, reason, and make decisions.” Those habits come from unrecognized feelings and beliefs about social groups.
In other words, people have to learn about their implicit biases and work to combat them.
These are some strategies for combating bias in your teaching:
A microaggression is a statement, action, or incident regarded as an instance of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group such as a racial or ethnic minority. Microaggressions can be the result of bias.
In our classes, microaggressions can make people feel unwelcome and uncomfortable, and can also make it difficult to have productive and respectful discussions. Learning to identify microaggressions is a good first step in learning to confront them. Buzzfeed has a
collection of common microaggressions and
UCSC has a collection of examples that includes explanations of the themes and harmful messages that are implied by each microaggression.
The video below, produced by Dr. Yolanda Flores Niemann and Carla LynDale Carter, gives some context to how microaggressions negatively impact the classroom environment. A few noteworthy segments include
Microaggressions in the Classroom from
Learning to respond to microaggressions can help you and your students to cultivate a welcoming classroom environment and to learn about the biases that shape microaggressions. Tasha Sousza, PhD offers a framework on how to take ACTION when responding to microaggressions in a Faculty Focus blog post, "Responding to Microaggressions in the Classroom: Taking ACTION." Kerry Ann Rockquemore provides another framework,
“Opening the Front Door,” as a way to engage in “microresistance” and act as an ally when experiencing microaggressions.
Awareness of Implicit Biases. (n.d.). Yale Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning. Retrieved January 20, 2021 from
Banaji, M. R., & Greenwald, A. G. (2013). Blindspot: Hidden biases of good people. New York: Random House Publishing Group.
Eberhardt, J. L. (2019).
Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We see, Think, and Do. Penguin Books.
Inoue, A. B. (2019). Labor-Based Grading Contracts: Building Equity and Inclusion in the Compassionate Writing Classroom. The WAC Clearinghouse; University Press of Colorado.
Rockquemore, K. A. (2016). Allies and Microaggressions. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved January 26, 2021, from
Souza, T., Vizenor, N., Sherlip, D., & Raser, L. (2016). Transforming conflict in the classroom: Best practices for facilitating difficult dialogues and creating an inclusive communication climate. In P. M. Kellett & T. G. Matyok (Eds.), Transforming conflict through communication: Personal to working relationships. (pp. 373-395). Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
Souza, T.J. (2016). Managing Hot Moments in the Classroom: Concrete Strategies for Cooling Down Tension. In Faculty Focus Special Report: Diversity and Inclusion in the College Classroom. Magna Publication.
Strategies and Resources About Implicit Bias. (n.d.). Brown University. Retrieved January 26, 2021, from