Unconscious Bias Training: Objectives and Theories

The objective of this module is for the trainee to understand the complexities of unconscious bias, its influence on behavior, and consequences for the workplace. The module consists of a theoretical background, video scenarios, interactive exercises, and opportunities for reflection and discussion among participants. The key outcome of the lesson is to recognize unconscious bias in one’s own behavior and learn steps that can be taken to counter bias in the work environment (Microsoft, 2015).

As a result of the module, participants will be able to:

  • Define unconscious bias and its impact on the workplace and productivity
  • Identify how unconscious bias is formed and acted upon
  • Recognize various types and approaches to bias
  • Recognize, identify, and learn to address micro-behaviors stemming from bias
  • Learning strategies and steps to counter bias in the workplace and creating an inclusive culture.

Learning Theories Used

One of the primary learning theories used is cognitive learning theory which focuses on the mental processes. At its core, cognitive theory suggests that internal thoughts combined with external processes are critical to the cognitive process. Once a student understands the impact of mental thinking on their learning and behavior, they are able to exercise more control. Using the ability to make people understand how their thought process works presents opportunities to construct better habits and behaviors (Valamis, n.d.). This module seeks to describe the nuances of how unconscious bias is formulated and is part of the thought process which influences behavior. By recognizing this connection, participants are more likely to consider making changes to eliminate unconscious bias in their thought process or behavior.

The theory of learning known as connectivism is a newer approach based on the modern age of connectivity in the digital age. Learning with connectivism is based on the understanding that decisions are based on new information that is constantly being acquired, and it is necessary to determine what is important. Connectivism suggests that learning and knowledge is based in a diversity of options, and process of connection with a variety of information sources. Maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning. It is necessary to see the connections between ideas and concepts. Finally, that decision-making in itself is a learning process, and incoming information should be seen through a lens of a shifting reality. Connectivism addresses challenges in knowledge management activities in companies, emphasizing that the correct knowledge needs to connect with the right people in an appropriate context to be classified as learning (Siemens, 2005). This module incorporates multiple elements of connectivism, including presenting information in multiple of specialized ways, highlighting various resources, drawing connections between ideas, and drawing on the social and decision-making learning processes of the participants as they examine unconscious bias behavior.

The constructivism learning theory is also actively applied in this module. The basis of the theory suggests that people construct their own knowledge, with reality defined by the experiences as a learner. Therefore, individuals use previous knowledge as a foundation and build on it with new information and experiences, but everyone’s individual experiences make the learning unique to them. Constructivist learning theory is vital to understand in an educational context as students may bring unique experiences to the table, and this impacts how they perceive and learn (Olusegun, 2015). The module encompasses this heavily by first conducting a self-bias quiz and then presenting scenarios where the learner identifies what they believe to be the appropriate decision or behavior. This will be based on people’s previous experiences or understanding of bias. However, the module then provides feedback and information discussing how a certain behavior or decision is correct, thus helping to build upon the previous knowledge. In a manner of speaking, the video scenarios act as simulations which create experiences, that in turn generate knowledge.

Training Methods and Materials

  1. Slide presentation – the training has slides with text and information spread throughout. These present key details, definitions, and descriptions. The slides provide the theoretical concepts about bias, aid in the delivery of the lesson, and serve as summaries after other training methods and activities. The lesson is structured so that each slide is read aloud, at which point the user can click continue or remain on the slide to take notes. Materials needed: PC, headphones/speaker to hear the narration.
  2. Video scenarios – videos of multiple scenarios of interpersonal interaction that can occur in a workplace or collaboration on projects. The scenarios present realistic situations and dialogue as it would occur in real-life settings which allows participants to observe behaviors. Materials needed: PC, headphones/speaker, monitor.
  3. Multiple choice and matching questions – The questions are placed as follow-up to video scenarios as well as testing general knowledge. Since interpersonal relationships and bias are complex and often unnoticed, the questions present opportunities for people to reflect on what would be the best option. Each question provides feedback to explain best outcome. Materials needed: PC, mouse to use interactive tools.
  4. Group activities – participants of the webinar are asked to participate in the discussion and work in group activities to share thoughts and solutions in various presented scenarios and topics on the issue. Materials needed: PC, microphone and potentially camera to participate in group webinar.

References

Microsoft. (2015). eLesson: Unconscious bias. Web.

Olusegun, S. (2015). Constructivism learning theory: A paradigm for teaching and learning. IOSR Journal of Research and Method in Education, 5(6), 66-70.

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2(1). Web.

Valamis. (n.d.). Cognitive learning. Web.

Reference

PsychologyWriting. (2022, February 9). Unconscious Bias Training: Objectives and Theories. Retrieved from https://psychologywriting.com/unconscious-bias-training-objectives-and-theories/

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