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Can AI eliminate unconscious biases in assessment?

AI can help remove unconscious biases in marking.

According to a National Bureau of Economic Research study, female students in math and science classes consistently receive lower grades. This is true even when male and female students perform equally well on exams. Therefore, a bias exists.

A study from Lancaster University suggested that students from poor backgrounds are marked down because it is assumed they will underperform. This could be a result of unconscious bias among educators, who may be more likely to grade students from lower-income backgrounds lower than those from more privileged backgrounds. One educational institution has created a course to help teachers identify unconscious bias. In 2020, teacher-assigned grades were implemented as a response to COVID-19, raising concern that ethnic minorities would be disadvantaged by the implementation of these grades. This is a clear indication that bias is present in various forms in the education system, leading to questions such as, “What is unconscious bias, and what can be done to eliminate it?”

What is “unconscious bias”?

Unconscious bias is a type of stereotyping that happens automatically and outside of our control. It occurs when our brain makes quick judgments and assumptions about people and situations. Unconscious biases originate from the internalization of attitudes, perceptions, and behaviours. These biases are formed from different sources, such as family, peers, and the media, and can be either positive or negative. They can influence how people perceive and interact with each other, as well as how they make decisions, and can be difficult to unlearn without conscious effort. Ultimately, these biases can lead to discrimination, prejudice, and inequality in society.

What influences unconscious bias?

Personal Beliefs and Attitudes: Every teacher has values that shape their thinking. We may receive them from family, friends, peers, and the media. Unintentionally incorporating their strong opinions into their teaching strategies leads to bias. For instance, a teacher's beliefs about the necessity of discipline and diligent work may lead them to poorly grade students who are seen as not putting in the same effort as their peers.

Stereotyping: These are assumptions about people made in light of their race, gender, socioeconomic status, or other traits. Teachers' perceptions and interactions with their students may be biased as a result of these stereotypes. For instance, a teacher who unconsciously thinks students of certain races or ethnicities are less intelligent may treat them differently when assessing their work.

Social and cultural norms: These define the unspoken rules that govern how people interact with one another. They may be based on racial, gender, ethnic, or other distinctions, and they may have an impact on how teachers view and relate to their students. For instance, some subjects may be viewed as less significant for certain genders, which results in fewer opportunities for females in that class.

Past Experiences: Teachers who have had unpleasant interactions with particular student groups may unintentionally generalize those interactions to new students, which could result in bias. In addition, preconceived notions of the capabilities of certain student groups can affect a teacher's expectations, which can then shape how they interact with their students.

What can be done about unconscious bias?

Build Cultural Competence: Teachers can participate in training sessions and seminars that focus on developing cultural competence. This entails learning about various cultural contexts and how they might affect students' learning.

Focus on Individual Students: Instead of making generalizations about students based on their backgrounds or prior experiences, teachers should focus on each student and their specific needs.

Use inclusive teaching strategies: To create an inclusive and welcoming classroom environment, teachers can use inclusive teaching strategies, such as offering a variety of resources and materials that reflect the diversity of their students.

How AI helps unconscious biases?

AI may be able to eliminate bias in grading procedures. Instead of using subjective judgments that might be influenced by bias, AI systems can analyze and evaluate student work using objective criteria. For instance, rather than focusing on a student's writing or presentation skills, AI can assess the precision and thoroughness of a student's response to a question. Here are three advantages of AI.

Automated Grading: As AI algorithms are not influenced by individual biases or preferences, they can automate the grading process and reduce grading bias.

Objective and Accurate Assessment: AI can aid in enhancing assessments' objectives and accuracy by minimizing the impact of subjective factors like individual biases and preferences. Assessments' overall quality can be raised by using AI algorithms to analyze data and provide objective feedback based on predefined criteria.

Enhanced Security: By analyzing data and identifying patterns that suggest cheating, AI can spot and stop such behaviour. This helps preserve the validity of assessments and prevents teachers from assuming that students cheat because they belong to a particular race that is regarded as being intellectually inferior.

Are such tools accessible to teachers and available for use in schools? Without a doubt, the answer is yes! E-spaces offer a gamified digital application. Students are divided into three categories using a traffic light system: green for those who understood the learning objective, yellow for those who had a fair grasp of it, and red for those who did not understand the learning objective. Additional notes are provided to those who fall under “red” to further explain the learning objective. This helps the teacher decide how to proceed with the lesson in an informed way that also benefits the students. This, in turn, assists teachers in implementing inclusive teaching practices and providing more individually tailored learning.

The application's beta version is currently being tested. It's not too late to get on the waiting list for beta testing and allow your school to have a bias-free learning environment. In Walter Dean Myers' words, students should feel that “tests were never difficult for me, they were a game instead.” These tests could be done “without experiencing teacher invalidation.” AI makes it possible to gamify assessments. After all, just as games are created and playable by everyone, so too should class assessments!

 

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