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⚠️ Are You Biased When Giving Feedback To Students? 🗣️

Mar Clavijo
August 16, 2023

As a language educator, you understand the feedback impact on students' language acquisition. But there's a less explored facet of this process. That is: a potential for unintentional bias ⚠️ Can you recognize and address bias when giving feedback to students?

Let's reflect upon this concept to help you:

  • Become aware of and address bias 🎯
  • Identify it through a comparative analysis 🎭
  • Rely on tools to provide unbiased feedback 🔧

🤔 Recognizing and Addressing Bias 🎯

This is the first crucial step for us to take so we provide effective guidance to our diverse set of students. Bias can manifest as stemming from personal experiences, cultural backgrounds, and unconscious prejudices. If we are not self-aware, it might skew our perception of students' skills.

How can we mitigate bias and foster more objective feedback?

  • Take time to reflect on your feedback practices. Consider your own cultural background and experiences. Can you identify areas where bias might unconsciously creep in?
  • Take part in workshops, webinars, or courses focused on inclusive teaching practices.
  • Gain insights on cultural sensitivity by integrating World Quotient into your teaching.
  • Develop standard feedback templates that focus on specific linguistic elements (pronunciation, vocabulary usage, grammar, and coherence).
  • Think of the topics and situations you use in your lessons or activities. Do they cater to a variety of cultural backgrounds?
  • Review your feedback patterns and results. Do you identify any recurring biases or trends to address?
  • Encourage students to provide feedback on the feedback they get. Was it aligned with their expectations? Do they perceive any bias?
"Eliminating all forms of bias entirely might be challenging, but the goal is to reduce its impact."

↕️ Biased Feedback vs. Unbiased Feedback 🎭

Let's delve into a comprehensive comparison between providing biased and unbiased feedback:

  1. Perspective:

Biased Feedback: It's influenced by personal preferences, cultural inclinations, and stereotypes. This type of feedback might reflect a singular perspective, hindering holistic development.Unbiased Feedback: Embraces a neutral stance. Focused on objective criteria rather than personal preferences. It acknowledges the diverse backgrounds and experiences of learners, fostering inclusivity.

  1. Student Engagement:

Biased Feedback: Can discourage students whose language patterns don't align with the educator's bias. Those who conform might feel validated, but this hinders genuine linguistic exploration.Unbiased Feedback: Encourages all students to express themselves authentically. Embraces a range of linguistic styles. Students get motivated to develop their language skills without fear of judgment.

  1. Cultural Sensitivity:

Biased Feedback: Might perpetuate stereotypes or favor one cultural norm over another. Alienates students from different backgrounds.Unbiased Feedback: Acknowledges and respects cultural diversity. It takes into account the subtleties of language usage in different cultures. Enriches the learning experience for everyone.

  1. Skill Improvement:

Biased Feedback: May focus solely on aspects that align with the educator's bias. Overlooks critical areas that need improvement.Unbiased Feedback: Addresses a comprehensive spectrum of linguistic skills. Provides a balanced roadmap for students to enhance their proficiency.

  1. Self-Expression:

Biased Feedback: It might discourage students from expressing themselves.Unbiased Feedback: Celebrates individuality. Encourages them to develop their unique linguistic voices. Fosters self-confidence and a sense of ownership over their language skills.

  1. Learning Environment:

Biased Feedback: Creates an environment where conformity is prized. Potentially stifles creativity and diverse language exploration.Unbiased Feedback: Cultivates a dynamic and inclusive atmosphere. Empowers students to explore various language patterns. Helps them to learn from one another's linguistic diversity.

  1. Motivation:

Biased Feedback: Might motivate some students while demoralizing others. Those who align with the bias could receive excessive praise, while others might get demotivated.Unbiased Feedback: Motivates all students through balanced recognition of their strengths. Gives suggestions for improvement. This approach ensures consistent encouragement for growth.

All in all...

Since bias exists within all individuals, it's imperative to consciously strive for neutrality in our assessments.Let's commit to this process so all our students receive equitable and supportive feedback on their speaking skills.Eliminating all forms of bias entirely might be challenging, but the goal is to reduce its impact.

🗣️ Tools to Provide Unbiased Feedback 🔧

Both WIDA and ACTFL are clear and comprehensive rubrics that provide a standardized basis for evaluating students' speaking skills, reducing the impact of bias. This is how they look like on Speakable:

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