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Tackling bias in the curriculum

02 Feb 2021 | Advance HE The second part in our three-part series of literature reviews on unconscious bias for Advance HE members is published.

Advance HE has published the second part in a mini-series of literature reviews investigating the prevalence of unconscious bias in teaching and learning in higher education.

Bias in the Curriculum, authored by Hannah Borkin, Researcher (Mixed Methods) at Advance HE, assesses the prevalence of bias in curriculum design, content and delivery. It also includes an evaluation of good practice initiatives to help to create an evidence base of ‘’what works?’ in eliminating or reducing bias.

Two themes are explored within the review - bias in medical school curriculum and eliminating bias in reading lists. Some of the recommendations for students, staff and institutions highlight that:

  • teaching on the topic of bias should be engrained and embedded throughout, and students should be offered an opportunity to co-create interventions to raise instances of bias in real time
  • a reading list review is a type of intervention that represents an important first step for academics to consider their own individual biases, and to carry out positive action in order to reduce bias in their assigned reading lists.

Hannah said, “Literature reviews researching bias within higher education remain sparse but interest in the prevalence of bias in different settings has increased over the past few years.

“This series of reviews recognises the importance of understanding how unconscious processes can influence our behaviour and decision-making. In the case of curriculum design, the available literature on tackling bias in the medical curriculum and within reading lists demonstrates that these are two distinct areas where – as a starting point - positive change can be made.”

We feel it is important for voices to be heard to stimulate debate and share good practice. Blogs on our website are the views of the author and don’t necessarily represent those of Advance HE.

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