Using Virtual Environments to Reveal Teacher Bias Towards Students’ Socioeconomic Status
July 11, 2022
Radu, I., Dede, C., Wang, J., Nie, G., Bhola, K., & Scuzzarella, M. (2022). Using virtual environments to reveal teacher bias towards students’ socioeconomic status. 2022 8th International Conference of the Immersive Learning Research Network (iLRN), pp. 1-8. doi: 10.23919/iLRN55037.2022.9815955.
Research suggests that the socioeconomic status (SES) of students plays a role in teacher perceptions, but it is unclear if virtual simulation technologies can detect this bias. In this exploratory study, a convenience sample of former and current teachers was asked to evaluate students’ performance in a virtually simulated classroom environment. Teachers using the virtual classroom exhibited biased judgements when shown students from varying SES backgrounds who made equivalent progress on a literacy task. Most teachers judged low SES students as making more progress than high SES students. Teachers reported feeling immersed in the experience, and immersion was correlated with bias in teacher judgements. This underscores the value of immersive simulations as a mechanism for inducing realistic situations that draw out unconscious biases. This approach may be of particular value when teachers must recognize that they have biases, as a necessary step in unlearning these by practicing unbiased strategies in simulated environments, with the aim of transfer to real world classrooms.