March 20, 2006

Bias in the classroom

From Inside Higher Ed coverage of a PS piece on bias in the classroom.

Turns out those commie liberal professors are viewed positively by students, who believe they are more likely to let students think for themselves.

  • Most students feel confident that they know their professors’ political inclinations and that they are not hidden. Asked if they knew their professors’ leanings, 15 percent said that they were “positive,” 32 percent said that they were “very confident,” 40 percent were “somewhat confident,” and only 11 percent were “not at all confident.”

  • Students considered 77 percent of their professors to be left of center, and 7 percent right of center. (While the authors of the students didn’t verify that the professors indeed held those views, they note that such findings would be consistent with other surveys of the profession.) While more students in the survey identified themselves as liberal than as conservative, the split was such that the student body in this study was more conservative than the professors — as perceived by students.

  • Professors who students think are conservative are generally rated more favorably by students on whether they present material objectively.

  • Professors who students think are liberal are generally rated more favorably by students on whether students are encouraged to present their own viewpoints, whether grading is fair, whether the learning environment is comfortable, and whether they care about the success of students.

  • Of course, the students don't believe that what the professor says is objective, which is an interesting connection. If the liberal professor is more likely to encourage students to speak their minds, does this mean that they think that this is all the professors are doing? Especially interesting given something I was just reading on the Socratic method, in which is says that by just listening to information that students tend to learn to recognize information, but that by being engaged in the socratic me thod and having to think for themeselves, they actually learn. So could it be that students are actually learning more from those dastardly liberals?

    Via Bitch PhD.

    Posted by binky at March 20, 2006 04:03 PM | TrackBack | Posted to The Academy


    Just curious, could you link what you were reading on the Socratic method?

    Posted by: Morris at March 20, 2006 04:56 PM | PERMALINK

    No, sorry, I was reading an actual book. But you might recognize the source.

    Posted by: binky at March 20, 2006 05:00 PM | PERMALINK

    This is from April Kelly-Woessner's work. Go April!

    Posted by: Armand at March 20, 2006 05:02 PM | PERMALINK

    I have had discussions with liberal professors, it’s hard not to find a liberal professor, and I will say that liberal professors often back up their viewpoints with published academic works, but published academic works by other liberal professors. What I have found so frustrating and at the same time poignant, is that professors will justify their beliefs with what they read in academic journals or here from their colleagues, as if to say “If its published it is proven,” but when you challenge their beliefs with academic works that show the contrary, suddenly those works are merely theory and unproven. Its easy to prove a point when you are preaching to the choir, but the problem is that a overwhelming majority of professors all belong to the Church or Liberal.

    Posted by: Publius at March 20, 2006 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

    That is really a crock of shit. Unless you think that the Preachers of the Chicago School are liberal? Or that somehow published articles in physics or chemistry are somehow liberal?

    Politics and discipline (the published journal articles) are correlated in some places, and are the ones that repeatedly get flogged (cultural studies! cultural studies! cultural studies!). For the most part, especially in the sciences, business schools, professional schools and parts of the social sciences, the characterization of disciplinary literature by politics is just not possible.

    I suppose I should say it's a crock of shit. That's not polite. Sorry.

    Posted by: binky at March 20, 2006 11:44 PM | PERMALINK

    Publius writes "the problem is that a overwhelming majority of professors all belong to the Church or Liberal". I just dont buy that. One, most students couldn't care less what a professor's personal views are, two, most professors I've met don't preach those views in class in any in-depth way, and three, in how many fields does this matter? Who cares if their Math prof is a liberal? It's not even much relevant in a lot of poli sci (classes on campaign spending, institutional processes, etc.). And much as there are some fields that just seem to exist to function as outlets for "the liberals" (a lot of Sociology), there's the same for "the conservatives" (a lot of Economics).

    All this gets so blown out of proportion. It might come as a shock to some to realize that 20 year olds are blank slates who'll believe whatever a teacher says - but they are not. A lot of them walk into class with very firm views, data to back those views up with, and see things that their profs say that contradict those views to be, in Publius's words, "theory".

    Posted by: Armand at March 21, 2006 07:36 AM | PERMALINK
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