Avoiding Confirmation Bias-How Do We Teach Students Multiple Perspectives?
This year, our school held an in-house week of professional development and were fortunate to have Alec Couros come and speak to our students and staff regarding Fake News, Social Media and Digital Citizenship. One of the issues he highlighted in his presentation is that of confirmation bias.
Confirmation bias is defined as seeking information that mimic your own beliefs, thus confirming what you already know in lieu of exploring diverse perspectives on issues. A 2013 study indicated that confirmation bias can even influence the way that individuals view statistics.
The concept of confirmation bias is exacerbated by the influx of technology in our personal lives, work lives, and education system. Numerous studies have been conducted into how confirmation bias affects our internet searches.
Dr. Couros shared this Awareness Test video with our students:
Which is a great way to test student' perceptions of information.
However, the question remains, how do we teach our students about confirmation bias and to be more critical of their own inherent biases? Additionally, how do we as educators avoid own own confirmation biases? Though confirmation bias is neither innately "good" or "bad" there is power in having the ability to critique and assess multiple perspectives.
Furthermore, as this article indicates one of the primary drawbacks of confirmation bias is stagnation. Confirmation bias limits growth and development by keeping one in a cycle of perpetual affirmation of one's own biases and opinions.
Here are some ideas of strategies and resources to teach students how to avoid confirmation bias:
1. Seek out multiple sources of information
Curate information on the same issue from a variety of sources to explore the issue from multiple perspectives. Use a strategy such as The Six Thinking Hats to help you analyze the issue from multiple perspectives.
2. Newseum Confirmation Bias Activities
If you ever get a chance to go to Washington D.C, be sure to check out the Newseum-arguably my all time favorite museum which showcases the history of news (they also have a Pulitzer Prize winning photography gallery this is also awesome but I am getting off topic).
3. Facing History and Ourselves Confirmation Bias Activities
Facing History and Ourselves is a Non-Profit organization with the objective of helping students of diverse background gain a deeper understanding of issues of prejudism, racism and bigotry. They have some excellent resources for teaching and learning such as their resources on