How Bias is Your Bias? How Great is Your Influence?By Sarah Armstrong
What interested me about bias… The prospect of bias in research is very interesting to me. How does bias affect my teaching methods? How aware of my own preconceived notions of others am I? I consider myself to have an open mind when it comes to student ability, but how about teacher ability? My research centers around the TC approach to literacy instruction. Since I am pro this methodology, how much will this affect my study (if at all)? How quick am I to dismiss the “old methods” and the “chalk and talk” teachers before I get to know them?
Research Bias is… Research bias, also called experimenter bias, is a process where the scientists performing the research influence the results, in order to portray a certain outcome. How you formulate your question is just as important as the results you hope to get by conducting your study. Is your question persuasive? Does it subversively lead one to believe one side versus the other? These are things we must be aware of when conducting research. We must also be aware of how we perceive our “subjects”. How far removed from them do we want to be? Are we scientists, or teachers?
How do you see me? Am I a serial killer? Am I a lunatic? Do I live on the street? What do you see you look at me?
I am Frank Zappa “Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible. -Frank Zappa, composer, musician, film director (1940-1993)” Frank Zappa is the musical force behind more than 60 albums, recording engineer, film producer, and much more. He also served as an ambassador to the Czech Republic, testified at the PMRC hearings of the 1980’s against the placing of warning labels on compact discs, and constantly encouraged young people to take make their voices heard in government. I never set out to be weird. It was always other people who called me weird.
How we see people that appear to be different from us and the bias we bring to the table is just as important as research bias. The Tuskeegee Syphilis Study shows the harmful effects of researchers placing themselves far above the participants.…“The subjects received heavy metals therapy, standard treatment in 1932, but were denied antibiotic therapy when it became clear in the 1940s that penicillin was a safe and effective treatment for the disease. When penicillin became widely available by the early 1950s as the preferred treatment for syphilis, this therapy was again withheld. On several occasions, the USPHS actually sought to prevent treatment.”
Fallout The results of the Tuskeegee study were published in medical journals for 40 years. The after effects were the belief by African Americans that the US government gave black people Syphillis so that they could be studied. This lead to a distrust of government and doctors that had inumerable effects on the community. How can your research affect the community? Good or bad…
"its ok to bring biases to your inquiry – because everyone has them, after all- as long as you openly admit them and continually reflect on how they might affect what you conclude (Falk, Blumenreich 29).” Everyone has bias, true. But, how aware of our own bias are we? Have you judged a student’s academic ability through their ethnicity? How about their behavior? If a student likes heavy metal and wears black, are they a threat? How can we reflect on something we are unaware of in ourselves?
How can I eliminate bias? Is this possible? • Moderators and analysts sometimes produce bias when reporting the results of qualitative research. • Keeping an open mind requires extraordinary discipline. • Experiences, beliefs, feelings, wishes, attitudes, culture, views, state of mind, reference, error, and personality can bias analysis and reporting. • The conscious and subconscious are at work. Moderators and analysts are human. • Strive for objectivity as best you can. Keep your mind open. • More than one analyst helps. Get a couple of people to analyze the data. You’ll get different perspectives. If you subconsciously skew reporting, another analyst may spot it.
The importance of it all…The effect you can have on a child I After WWII in France, orphaned boys were sent to various boarding schools across the country. In these schools they were abused, severely punished for minor infractions, and when they were of age, kicked out and made to find their own way in life. This was the case in many schools. In one school, there came a new music teacher, he changed theur lives. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXS5TiBYESk&feature=relmfu