Researchers at the University of Wisconsin are hopeful that a video game can help reduce implicit racial bias in K-12 classrooms.
They are spending the summer designing a virtual reality program with teachers from two school districts. The game puts teachers in real life situations that Black students encounter at predominantly White schools, Education Week reports.
Players experience microaggressions, such as being mistaken for other students of color.
“If you are calling students by the wrong name, a very simple strategy is to get to know them as individuals,” Christine Pribbenbow, a senior scientist, told Education Week.
Pribbenbow, who heads the project, said that typically happens because teachers group students together in their minds by race—not as individuals.
Unconscious teacher bias is pervasive and powerful, a study from Johns Hopkins University found. White teachers who expect Black students to underachieve often act unconsciously to reinforce their expectations.
Pribbenbow has experience creating video games that address bias. She was one of the lead developers of a video game called Fair Play, which lets users experience the first year of graduate school from the perspective of a Black student named Jamal.
In the game, Jamal experiences microaggressions, tokenism, and other forms of implicit bias from students and professors. A fellow student, in one encounter, assumes Jamal is on campus as a worker for a catering company.
Professors who played that game were later surveyed to assess their takeaways. A change in perspective was one of the most important results.
Pribbenbow said, “A critical piece in decreasing bias is being able to step in students’ shoes and understand what they are going through.”
Researchers are hopeful that the new video game will be as effective for K-12 educators as Fair Play has been for college professors.
SOURCE: Education Week