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Appropriate Use of First Person and Avoiding Bias

Presented July 17, 2019

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Last updated 8/25/2019

 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Housekeeping

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  • Help
    • Ask in the Q&A box.
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Audio: Hello everyone and welcome to today's webinar entitled appropriate use of first-person and avoiding bias. I’m Michael Dusek and I’m a writing instructor in the Walden writing center I’ll be working behind the scenes of today's webinar. Before we begin and I hand the session over to today's presenter, Kacy, let me go over a few housekeeping items.

First, we are recording this webinar so you are welcome to access it at a later date via our webinar archive and in fact note that we record all of our webinars at the writing center so you are welcome to look through that archive for other recordings that might interest you as well.

Furthermore, we might mention a few webinars that will be a helpful follow-up to this webinar during the session so feel free to explore the webinar archive at your leisure.

Also, whether you are attending this webinar live or watch a recording, note that you’ll be able to participate in any polls that we use, files we share or links we provide. You can also access the PowerPoint slides Kacy will be sharing which are located in the files pod.

Lastly, we also welcome questions and comments throughout the session via the Q & A box. I will be watching the Q & A box and will be happy to answer questions throughout the session as Kacy is presenting. You're also welcome to present any technical issues you have to me there although note there is a help option at the right corner of your screen. This is Adobes Technical Support so that is probably the best place to go if tech issues persist. Okay, with that I will hand over the session to our presenter, Kacy Walz.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the title of the webinar, “Appropriate Use of First Person and Avoiding Bias” and the speaker’s name and information: Kacy Walz, Writing Instructor, Walden University Writing Center

Audio: Kacy: Hello, and thank you all for joining us and as Michael said my name is Kacy Walz and I'm also a writing instructor at the Walden writing center and I am calling in today from St. Louis, Missouri, where it is very hot and I hope you are all enjoying nice weather wherever you are.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Today’s Learning Objectives:

  • First person or personal pronouns: I, me, my
    • Identify appropriate uses
    • Identify inappropriate uses
  • Avoiding bias
    • What constitutes objectivity?
    • Ways to avoid bias
    • Understanding implicit bias

Audio: In our webinar we have a few learning objectives. First, we are going to go over the use of first-person or personal pronouns, which are those pronouns like I, me, my, and we are going to go over the appropriate uses for these pronouns and also where it might be inappropriate to use those first-person pronouns.

We are also going to be talking about avoiding bias. So, we’ll go over what constitutes bias and what constitutes objectivity too. We'll talk about some ways to avoid bias and then we are going to have a little bit of information about understanding implicit bias and how it impacts your writing and your other scholarly courses.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Use of First person

  • Allowed by both Walden and APA…

…when used appropriately.

           Section 3.09 in APA Manual

           Writing Center website

Audio: First off, we are going to talk about first person. First person is allowed by both Walden and APA when it’s used appropriately. Now if you have any questions about this, you can check these different websites or the section 3.09 in the APA manual but contrary to some confusion, you should be using first person in your scholarly writing.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Considerations

  • Program/degree level
  • Assignment requirements
  • Professor preferences

Audio: There are some different considerations of course for how often or when you're going to use that first person.

First off will be the program for the degree level so certain programs are going to have different rules about when you are using first person and also depending on what level you are at there might be some different expectations. You might also have some different assignment requirements so if the assignment is specifically telling you not to use first person, we don't want to give you any misconceptions about that. You want to follow your assignment directions. And then also going along with that professor preferences -- different professors will have different ways that they like you to present your information and at the writing center we are always going to defer to your professor, so whatever he or she prefers is how you want to go about with your writing.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: When to Use the First Person:

To avoid “the author” and “this researcher”

  • This researcher sent the surveys to the participants.
    • I sent the surveys to the participants.
  • McCaskey (2012) conducted a study of standardized test performance in third-grade English language learners. The author replicated this study with a fourth-grade population.
    • I replicated McCaskeys (2012) study with a fourth-grade population.

Audio: So, here are some places that you want to avoid, I’m sorry that you want to use the first person. You want to avoid saying the author or this researcher when you’re talking specifically about yourself. Some examples are this researcher sent the surveys to the participants. Or in this second example McCaskey conducted a study of standardized test performance in third grade English language learners. The author replicated this study with a fourth-grade population. Here you can see how both of these instances by using the author or the researcher it’s a little bit trickier for our reader to understand who exactly is doing all of this. In the first one we can clarify basically saying I sent the surveys to the participants. If you are the one conducting this research process take ownership of that and claim that as something you've actually done if you are the one who sent out the survey.

Similarly, with the second one, I replicated McCaskey's study with a fourth-grade population clarifies that when this writer was saying the author, they actually meant themselves – they were the ones who replicated the study. If I am a reader coming across these sentences, I might think that writer is still talking about McCaskey so therefore McCaskey is getting the credit for this second study with the fourth-grade population when actually it’s the writer that did all that work, so you want to claim that credit by using first person.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: When to Use the First Person:

To avoid “the author” and “this researcher”

Audio: Here is another example. So here we have afterschool programs have a documented connection to students’ physical fitness and their education. Gortmaker found that students activity levels increased by 10 minutes when physical fitness was integrated with afterschool programs. I will use this model to implement a similar program in my own school district. By continuing Gortmakers focus on physical fitness and education or afterschool programs, I will show the effectiveness of integrating the two focuses. And so here again you can see how using that first person clarifies for your reader what part of this is coming from Gortmaker and what part is actually being completed by me, the writer.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: When to Use the First Person:

To avoid anthropomorphism

  • This paper will examine…
    • In this paper, I will examine…
  • This section will explore…
    • In this section, I will explore…

Additional Resource!

What is anthropomorphism?

Audio: You also want to use first person to avoid what we call anthropomorphism. Anthropomorphism is basically just a fancy word for when you give agency to an inanimate object. Some examples here are, this paper will examine or this section will explore. So a paper on its own can’t examine anything and a section cannot explore anything. Instead we can say in this paper, I will examine because you, as the writer and scholar are perfectly able to examine something. Or you could say in this section, I will explore and so you are clarifying for your reader that this specific section is working to achieve something but you're not giving this section or the paper that kind of agency or animation as it in self is going to be examining or exploring.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: When to Use the First Person:

To explain what you will do or show in a paper

  • I will do this…
  • I will show that…
  • I will summarize this…
  • I will conclude with…

Audio: So, you want to use first person to explain what you will do or show in a paper like in those previous examples, so you might say I will do this or I’ll show that and provide some kind of argument. I am going to summarize this or I will conclude with so using that first person to let your reader know that this is what they can expect is a really good use of first-person.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: When to Use the First Person:

To avoid passive voice

  • A healthcare initiative will be suggested.
    • I will suggest a healthcare initiative.
  • Three education theories will be analyzed.
    • I will analyze three education theories.
  • Ways that time will be managed will be explained by me.
    • I will explain ways that I will manage my time.
  • Additional Resource!
  • Active and Passive Voice

Audio: You also want to use first person to avoid passive voice and I think this is something that can be a little bit confusing because this is a comment that I make on a lot of papers but basically when you use passive voice it’s just unclear to your reader what the specific subject is or who is doing the action. Here we have a healthcare initiative will be suggested. Who is suggesting this healthcare initiative? Right? As a reader I am not sure. Three education theories will be analyzed. Again, I am not sure who was doing the analysis here, I don’t know what the actual subject of that sentence is or ways that time will be managed will be explained by me. And I think this third example is a good illustration of where passive voice can become a little bit clunky and make it where you are using more words than you need to use and it gets in the way of the overall readability of your paper.

So instead I could write I will suggest a healthcare initiative. So, there's no question in who is making this recommendation, it is the writer. I’m not referencing any other resources at least in this paper. I will analyze three education theories. Again, you’re taking credit for the work you’re the one providing this analysis you're going to give and then I will explain ways that I will manage my time. So again, it is much more direct. It might not be that many fewer words but it is just a little bit more clear and does not seem quite so circular when you have all of that passive voice method involved.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Putting it All together

Chat Box:

Choose one sentence; revise it and submit it to the chat box.

This section explores the theories of positivism, functionalism, and social construction, after which their applicability to national health care will be analyzed. The author also compares these theories to her hospital, illustrating that functionalism is most appropriate for this organization.

Audio: So, I have a chance for you guys to put this into practice so in the chat box take one of these sentences and just revise it and submit it into the chat box. I’m going to put this on silence for a bit and give you guys a chance

[Silence as participants respond]

I am seeing a lot of great responses come in and I think you guys are picking up on the really important pieces that we wanted you to note. First off several of you have noticed that the section can’t explore anything so we need to provide some subject and a lot of you put in this section I will explore or simply I will explore two theories so you are clarifying who exactly it is who is doing this exploring, who was providing these theories. Similarly, some of you are pointing out this idea of what is, whose hospital is her hospital? The author also compares these theories to her hospital and with your revisions I see that you are working through what that specifically means and are making great points that as readers that is very unclear whereas if I revise this to: I will also compare these theories to my hospital or the hospital where I work, that is going to clarify and give a focus point for your reader so now it is pinpointed what specific hospital you’re talking about. We don't have this confusion of did I miss something or did I misread another part of this paper where they are talking about this so you're doing a great job. Thank you so much for participating.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Putting it All together

Chat Box:

Revised

In this section, I explore the theories of positivism, functionalism, and social construction, after which I analyze their applicability to national health care. I also compare these theories to my hospital, illustrating that functionalism is most appropriate for my organization.

Here is the way that I revised that chat box. Similarly, to what a lot of you have written in the chat box, in this section, I explore the theories of positivism, functionalism and social construction, after which I analyze their applicability to national healthcare. I also compare these theories to my hospital illustrating that functionalism is most appropriate for my organization. So again we’ve got all that information cleared up I know that I should not be looking for any citations because these are going to be my own ideas and my own work and it’s clear that I am talking about a specific organization and my reader has a sense of what specific hospital, what specific organization I am talking about.

I don't know if you heard that loud clap of thunder all of a sudden. It just all of a sudden started raining here. It kind of scared me. But anyway.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: In appropriate Use of First Person

  • Sometimes weakens your argument
  • May be perceived as bias

Audio: Now we're going to go over some inappropriate uses of first-person. So, this is where I think a lot of the confusion stems and people are afraid to use first person in their scholarly writing because sometimes using first person can weaken your argument or lots of times teachers or people who are commenting on papers might recommend that you avoid first-person so that your argument seems stronger or you seem more assured of the points that you are making. Additionally, can also sometimes be perceived as bias so whether or not you actually have that bias or you are trying to present something as an argument, using that first-person can lead your reader to believe that there is bias there.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Inappropriate Use of the First Person

To express opinions or beliefs

  • I think that teachers need to pay attention to student’ individual needs.
    • Teachers need to pay attention to students individual needs in order to...
  • I believe that nurses should be more caring towards their patients.
    • Nurses should be more caring towards their patients in order to...

Audio: So, here are some more examples of that. I think that teachers need to pay attention to students’ individual needs. I believe that nurses should be more caring towards their patients. I think these are kind of the classic examples of when reviewers are going to recommend that you avoid first-person. Because you don't really need that I think or I believe because the act of writing that sentence is going to make it clear to your reader that this is what you think or believe. Instead you can simply say teachers need to pay attention to students’ individual needs and then you can build that into your argument, in order to and so it’s very clear that this is your point that you are making and this is the argument that you want to lead into with that statement, teachers need to pay attention.

Similarly, we could just say nurses should be more caring towards their patients in order to, and so again we are introducing the specific arguments but because I don't have any citation and because I’m just presenting this within my writing it’s going to be clear to my reader that this is my point, what I believe.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Inappropriate Use of the First Person

To make assumptions about your audience.

  • We have a responsibility as educators to ensure that all students’ learning styles are addressed.
    • Educators have a responsibility to address all students’ learning styles.
  • Our nation entered a new period of educational reform in the 1970s.
    • The United States entered a new period of educational reform in the 1970s.

Audio: Another place where it can be tricky and I see this a lot in papers too, is using second person, basically when you are bringing your reader into a group or you are implicating them in some way along with yourself. So, we have a responsibility as educators to ensure that all students’ learning styles are addressed. Right? That is going to assume something about whoever it is that is reading it that they are also going to be part of that group that I am claiming for myself.

Our nation entered a new period of educational reform in the 1970s. You’re making the assumption that whoever is reading this paper is also going to claim your nation as their own, is going to know specifically what nation you are referring to when you are talking about those educational reforms. So instead you can simply say educators have a responsibility to address all students’ learning styles. That way it’s very clear to your reader who you are talking about because maybe your reader does identify as part of that group. Similarly, but they are not sure what specific group you are talking about. Are you talking about parents, are you talking about school administrators? Here specifically we want to talk about educators so we are going to make that very clear by simply saying educators have that responsibility.

In this next sentence we can say the United States entered a new period of educational reform in the 1970s which makes it very clear what nation you are talking about, particularly as Walden students you might have readers from all over the world. So saying our nation is going to be very confusing to someone who does not live in the United States or who lives in a different country that you do, if they are reading your paper and feel they are expected to know what nation experienced educational reform in the 1970s because probably there’s going to be more than one, there’s going to be more than one nation for whatever you are talking about so you want to make sure that is really clear.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Putting It All Together

Chat Box:

Choose one sentence; revise it and submit it to the chat box.

In my opinion, business managers should pay more attention to employees’ strengths. In the organization I volunteer for, I think many employees have strengths that managers overlook. Members of our profession must remain aware of the importance of recognizing employees’ individual abilities to effectively build a team.

Audio: Here is another chat opportunity so again you're going to take one of these sentences and revise it so that you are using first person when you want to use it and you are avoiding it when maybe it is not necessary, when it’s going to make your paper stronger to avoid that use of first-person. I am going to mute for about two minutes and give you time to answer.

[silence as participants respond]

Great I see a lot of you have picked up on the fact that we don't need that, in my opinion. We can just start with business managers should pay more attention to some of you have added that in order to at the end so I am not just stating this opinion but I want to state this opinion so that it can lead into some larger argument. Let me just to go over my own corrections here which I think again is very similar to what you all have typed in the chat box. Business managers should pay more attention to employee strengths in order to be effective leaders. In the organization I volunteer for, a lot of you noted we still want to keep that first-person, many employees have strengths that managers overlook. Managers must remain aware of the importance of recognizing employees’ individual abilities to effectively build a team.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Putting It All Together

Chat Box:

Revised

Business managers should pay more attention to employees’ strengths in order to be effective leaders. In the organization I volunteer for, many employees have strengths that managers overlook. Managers must remain aware of the importance of recognizing employees’ individual abilities to effectively build a team.

So first-person should be used in a few of those areas, right? Because it makes it clear for the reader specifically which organization you are talking about -- it kind of gives you a little bit of claim too. I have noticed this in my own organization it gives you that extra credibility, but also we have removed the second person of members of our profession because we don't know specifically which profession the reader might be in or how they might identify themselves in this specific situation. Instead we can just say managers in general should remain aware. Right?

Great job. It looks like a lot if you even went above and beyond and did not just take one sentence but decided to revise the whole thing, so great job. You guys are rocking along.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Questions?

Submit in the Q&A Box! Up Next: Objectivity and Avoiding Bias.

Audio: We're going to take a quick minute here before we move on to talking about bias. Michael are there any questions that might be helpful to discuss as a larger group?

Michael: Hey Kacy at this point the Q&A box has been pretty quiet. If you have any questions that you would like to get answered as the pr0esentation continues feel free to drop them in the Q&A box and I will respond to them as soon as I can, but at this point I think you're good to move on.

Kacy: Please do if you have any questions be sure to let us know in that chat box and we can talk about them as a larger group or Michael can just answer them directly.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Objectivity & Avoiding Bias

Chat Box:

What does objectivity and avoiding bias in writing mean to you?

           According to APA (2010), “scientific writing must be free of implied or irrelevant evaluation of the group or groups being studied” (p.233).

Audio: Before we get into talking about bias and objectivity, I just want to give you a minute to think about what objectivity and avoiding bias in writing means to you. So, why do you think that is important to be objective and to avoid bias when you are crafting your papers? I’ll just maybe go on mute for another minute or so while you enter that in the chat box.

[silence as participants respond]

We have this little citation from APA. According to APA scientific writing must be free of implied or irrelevant evaluation of the group or groups being studied and that’s really important particularly a lot of the projects that Walden students create are dealing with social sciences or dealing with groups of individuals. We focus a lot on social change and so maintaining that objectivity and avoiding bias is very important in all scholarly writing but especially for Walden students and it looks like you all are also picking up on the really important parts about why you want to maintain objectivity in writing. Some people have pointed out that you don't want to be misunderstood, you don’t want people to think that you are making a certain assumption or argument that you are not intending with some unintentionally bias sounding language. You want to make sure that your writing is credible and if it sounds like the writing is overly biased or is not objective that definitely takes away from your credibility as a writer.

You want to always, always be supporting your arguments with evidence so it shouldn’t be based on opinion. You want to clearly present that you have researched your argument, that you have a strong foundation for it and you are not just making things up and that is why citations are so important in making sure that you are providing that good research. Awesome.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Objectivity & Avoiding Bias

  • Objectivity is

The standard for social science publication

Different from nonacademic sources

  • Objectivity is not

Passionless or robotic

Missing your voice

Audio: Some things about objectivity is, it is a standard for social science publication. Make sure you are being objective because that is a major goal for a lot of scholars is to be published and it’s different in terms of what objectivity means for academic sources versus non-academic sources.

What objectivity is not however, it does not mean that your writing is passionless or robotic and it does not mean that you are not including your own voice, you definitely you want to include argumentation. You want to include your own points of scholar and you want to make your writing interesting and to be engaging for your reader. Being passionless or robotic does not mean that you are being objective so I think that’s something that we want to get out of the way right up front. You can be very passionate about a topic but still not be writing in a biased or nonobjective way.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Why avoid bias?

  • Don’t want to offend your reader
  • Want your reader to see you as an authority
  • Wat to be, and appear to be, open-minded

Audio: These are some things that you all pointed out in the chat box. But just to kind of go over, you want to avoid bias because you don't want to offend your reader. I saw some mention that being biased in your writing could affect relationships that you have, professional relationships that you are developing over the course of your scholarly career and you definitely want to avoid offending anybody by potentially having bias in your writing

You want your reader to see you as an authority, so lots of you talked about credibility and the importance of backing up all of the arguments you make with strong evidence. And you want to be and appear to be open-minded. We often talk about scholarship as joining a conversation and you don't want to be that one person in the corner that nobody wants to talk to because they are completely only going to look at everything in their own way. Or if they are not going to consider anybody else's ideas or thoughts you're not going to change their mind. You want to be the participant in the conversation, who is taking different ideas and building off of them and debating them in a way that is respectful and clear but also well supported and not emotion-based. These are some really important things about why you want to avoid bias in your writing.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Avoiding Bias: Avoiding Generalizations

People from Tennessee are obsessed with football.

  • Many Tennesseans are avid fans of football (Manning, 2009).

Generalizations: Statements that oversimplify a situation or ignore outliers, sometimes called “blanket statements.”

Additional Resource!

Scholarly Voice

Audio: Here are some examples of bias that I think sometimes it can be confusing by what we mean by bias. And bias sounds like a really bad word but it can be a simple, kind of generalization that you may make without realizing you are making it. This example, people from Tennessee are obsessed with football. Right? Statements like this are suggesting that an entire group of people from an entire state are all going to have the same obsessions or are all going to have the same likes or dislikes. So, instead you can just say that many Tennesseans are avid fans of football. Right? And here we even have this citation to support it. Maybe Manning has taken some kind of survey of everybody who lives in Tennessee and the majority of them have said yes, I’m an avid football fan.

I’m not saying generally just making this blanket statement if you’re from Tennessee you’re obsessed with football, I actually have a citation to support this and I'm being much more careful about how I am presenting that information. I like to think about it as you don't want to be so easily discredited. If I find one person from Tennessee in a situation who is not obsessed with football than that entire sentence becomes moot, it is no longer an arguable sentence because I found this one exemption. Whereas with the second, many are avid fans of football, that is going to be a lot more difficult to disprove particularly when I have that citation that is supporting that claim suggesting somebody has already done the research to back this up.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Avoiding Bias: Using Evidence

Third-grade boys are chronically disruptive, while the girls are always eager to please.

  • In Clooneys (2008) study of Kansas City third-graders, 35% of the boys and 68% of the girls were able to complete instructions for a tedious assignment without showing signs of agitation.
  • Answer the question “Says who?” or “According to whom?” for your reader.
  • Additional Resource!
  • Using Evidence

Audio: Similarly, third grade boys are chronically disruptive while the girls are always eager to please. And again, you can kind of see how if I can find one third grade boy who is not chronically disruptive then I have completely blown this sentence apart. Instead I can use research and clear citations and then also these very specific statistics to clarify what I actually mean.

So, in Clooney's study of Kansas City third-graders, now I’m being even more specific about the population I'm talking about, 35% of the boys and 68% of the girls were able to complete instructions for a tedious assignment without showing signs of agitation. Here I have really clear information about the way that the gender breaks up in this particular study and I also have a clear idea of what I mean by disruptive or eager to please. Right, you can think about maybe yourself as a third grader or a third grader you know who has been forced to sit down and complete some really tedious task and maybe for a long period of time and how long it will take to start getting bored or start getting antsy. We have a much clearer idea of specifically what we mean when we are saying that maybe girls are able to stay still for a longer period of time or are able to focus on a task for a longer period of time, generally in comparison to boys.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Avoiding Bias: Using Evidence

High school administrators should include teachers in their decision making.

  • High school administrators should include teachers in their decision making. Doing so, according to Jones (2013), promotes teachers’ acceptance of administrative decisions and policies, as well as ensures administration understands teachers’ perspectives when making decisions.
  • Pair or support your own ideas with evidence.

 

Audio: We also want to avoid bias by providing evidence and this is kind of feeding back into our earlier slides talking about adding that, in order to, at the end of a statement. So here we have High School administrators should include teachers in their decision making. This is going to be my argument. Right? I don’t need to say I think or I believe, but I can just say high school administrators should include teachers. And then I'm going to add some research to support my claim, to support my reasoning for why I believe it is important. Doing so, according to Jones, promotes teacher's acceptance of administrative decisions and policies, as well as ensures administration understands teachers’ perspectives when making decisions. So here it’s clear why I’m making this suggestion. It is not that I am making this blanket assumption that administrators are not including teachers in their decision-making or I am suggesting that administrators have not thought about this themselves, instead I am using some research to back up my point about why this is so important.

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Avoiding Bias: Using Evidence

Policemen must show sensitivity when communicating with demented people to be more effective public servants.

  • Police officers must show sensitivity when communicating with people with dementia in order to be more effective public servants.

Avoid words or phrases that imply judgments related to race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or age

Additional Resource!

Using Evidence

Audio: And another similar example to that, policemen must show sensitivity when communicating with demented people to be more effective public servants. We’ve got a lot of things going on with this sentence that might show some unintentional bias. And so first off instead of saying policemen we could say police officers because there are people of both genders who serve as police, must show sensitivity when communicating with people with dementia, so basically that follows a person first descriptor.

We have several pages maybe Michael can try to find links to our pages about avoiding bias in scholarly writing but there is a practice where unless you know otherwise, unless you have specifically spoken to this group of people, you want to put their personhood before a descriptor or an identity. So, it is people with dementia rather than demented people. There are some exceptions to that and we talk about that in those pages, but in general you want to try to put the person first. So, you want to avoid any words or phrases that imply judgment so policemen might suggest that you are implying that only male individuals serve as police officers same thing with disability. We don't want to think of a disability as coming first. They are people first so we use that people first language instead. That can be tricky so if there are questions hopefully, we can talk about that more.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Avoiding Bias: Understanding Implicit Bias

  • Everyone has implicit biases
  • Based on evolution
  • Knowing what your own biases are will help you avoid them
  1. Do I personally know anyone who might fall into this category?
  2. What have my experiences been with individuals who I would categorize this way?
  3.  Would I make this same kind of statement about a single race, ethnicity, gender, etc.?

Audio: And so finally understanding implicit bias. Implicit bias is something that is becoming more and more apparent in scholarly language and in studies but basically it is a principle that everyone has implicit biases they are based on evolution. Basically, our brains are just not able to make individualized judgments on people as quickly as we would like or as quickly as is sometimes necessary and so instead, we are really good at creating categories and being able to recognize patterns. So, we all have these implicit biases, and sometimes they serve us well and sometimes they are going to impact us in terms of avoiding bias in things like scholarly writing.

The key is, is just knowing what your biases might be because this will help you pay attention to where they might pop up in your writing or in your speaking or in your day to day interactions.

In order to complicate things when you think about maybe assumptions you might make about a larger group you can ask yourself these questions. Do I personally know anyone who might fall into this category? If I am talking about maybe say I am talking about football players in general, do I know anyone who plays football and do I know them well enough that I could maybe make some more individualized comments about that person versus talking about football players in general?

You want to think about what have my experiences been with individuals who I would categorize this way? Have they been predominantly positive, have they been predominantly negative? And think about if these experiences are having an effect on how you are talking or writing about that group of people. And then would you make the same kind of statement about a single race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc. because often times it’s similar to that earlier comment about all Tennessee residents being obsessed with football. Right? It’s not a super necessarily a hurtful comment or damaging comment but I think we tend to be much more aware of things like race and gender, religion and so if it is not the kind of thing that you would say about everybody of a certain race or everybody of a certain gender, it is probably a good idea to rethink if you want to make it about this group.

One example I have is, for myself, is looking around at a restaurant and seeing a group of people younger than myself who are all on their cell phones, who are texting on their phones instead of having conversations with each other. I noticed that I could make a quick judgment about them about what their priorities are, about the ways they are interacting with their friends, the way they are interacting with their loved ones but the reality is I have no idea. Maybe they are actually playing a game together and that is interacting with all the people at their table or I don't know what the specific situation is that has them all on their phones rather than talking to each other. Also just because if I see one table was acting that way it does not mean that everybody of that age group is going to behave that way and I would never want to say something like that about a specific race or a specific gender so that is a good thing to take a step back and say I would never say that about all people of one religion are always on their phone, you know? It's a good thing to take that step back and say I am probably being a little bit biased here and I can ask myself these questions to make sure that I do not include that bias in a larger conversation or if I am trying to write something scholarly about millennials or I technically fall into the group of millennials.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Avoiding Bias: Awareness of Background

  • Assumptions about professions
  • Beliefs about specific populations
  • Preference for familiar people/situations
  • Over sympathizing

           Know what biases you bring to the discussion. Ask what influences your perception of ideas and situations.

Audio: And then you also, so going into that implicit bias you want to be aware of your own background we have certain assumptions about professions or populations. We have different preferences for people for certain situations for certain people that we find familiar and there’s also the idea of over sympathizing. We could also have biases that are, and it sort of beneficial in a way -- but we want to make sure we are being objective and talk about all groups in a similar manner, not giving favoritism to any one group or population.

You want to know what biases you are bringing to the discussion and then ask yourself what influences your perception of these different situations or of these different ideas and I think a lot of times what I love about working with students from Walden is they are often working on projects that are really important to them that they are very passionate about and then sometimes that’s when these biases can come out whether it is biased towards or bias against any specific group so it's really important to just be aware that we all have those biases and we want to make sure they are not negatively impacting our scholarly writing.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Putting it All Together

Chat Box:

What areas of this paragraph could we revise to avoid bias? What changes would you make?

Patients never seem to pay attention to the discharge instructions nurses give them. I think one way we could help alleviate this issue is by providing instructions that are easier to read and more clearly organized. Patients who are in the hospital are often vulnerable (McClean, 2014), and it is so sad to see them fail to understand or follow discharge instructions.

Audio: This is our final chat for the webinar. Putting together all of these different ideas that we’ve talked about, what areas of this paragraph could maybe be revised to avoid bias and what changes would you make? You can either revise the sentences the way we’ve been doing previous chat boxes – you could just point out problematic things or things you might want to change. I will go on mute for about two minutes.

[silence as participants respond]

So, I can see a lot of you are picking up on the kind of significance that certain words have and I think that’s really great. We did not even specifically talk about that in this webinar but pointing out that words like never or sad, are kind of weighted, they kind of have this extra meaning that goes along with them and so even though we have that theme -- that might sort of lessen this claim a little bit, the idea that patients never pay attention is probably overly biased, we could find that one patient will pay attention to the discharge instructions and that sentence no longer holds water.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Putting it All Together

Patients often fail to pay attention to the discharge instructions nurses give them. Dashner (2012) noted this failure, finding that patients failed to follow any or all of their discharge instructions 45% of the time.  I think One way we hospitals could help alleviate this issue is by providing instructions that are easier to read and more clearly organized. Patients who are in the hospital are often vulnerable (McClean, 2014), and hospitals should do what they can to help ensure patients are able to understand and follow discharge instructions.

And then some of you are pointing out. We don't need to have this I think, and it is so sad is also one of those I think statements. So, we can get rid of that wording. So, here's another way that we can revise these with all of these pieces that you have brought up the chat box. Patients often fail to pay attention to the discharge instructions nurses give them. I saw quite a few of you had revised that sentence to be similar to that. Dashner noted this failure finding that patients fail to follow any or all of their discharge instructions 45% of the time. That is obviously added information that you did not have but I noticed that some were commenting on can we add some support for this claim? Can we back it up at all? That is how we're going to do that.

One way hospitals could alleviate this issue, so it is much more clear who this writer is addressing by saying we they are talk about hospitals, is by providing instructions that are easier to read and more clearly organized. Patients who are in the hospital are often vulnerable and hospitals should do what they can to help ensure patients are able to understand and follow discharge instructions. I think that also addresses that the language was almost patronizing. It seemed like the writer was talking down to patients or was talking down to the people that are providing these instructions. So instead we could reword that so it is clear what the recommendation is and why it is important without finding without sounding as if the writer is discounting the hard work that people are doing, that the nurses are doing that patients themselves, there's probably a number of reasons why discharge instructions could get ignored or misunderstood. By re wording this so that we can avoid those charged or weighted words we can avoid sounding overly biased.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Questions: Ask Now or Later

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Audio: We do have more time Michael were there any questions that came in during the second half of the webinar that might be helpful to discuss?

Michael: It has been pretty quiet in the Q&A box so we are good to continue on in the webinar.

Kacy: I just want to thank you again for participating and I will hand it off to you Michael to close out.

Michael: Thanks Kacy sounds good. If you have questions after this webinar, feel free to reach out to the writing center with those. We have a general email address here writingsupport@waldenu.edu that’s an email address that we monitor daily so you can send us a question there and we will get back to you with a response within 24 hours. Also, there are certain times when we offer a live chat service where there will also be a writing instructor like myself or Kacy sitting monitoring a chat box. The hours this is available is on the writing center homepage but if you would like a quick clarification or deal one on one with a person that would be the place to go for that.

Another resource we have that could help you with avoiding bias would be our modules. You could find a link in the middle of this slide, avoiding bias and clarifying the actor. Modules are a situation where you do a bit of reading and learning and you are quizzed on it and if that quiz method is helpful for you and learning that might be helpful to check out.

Lastly we offer paper review appointments, this would be a time where you could schedule to have a writing instructor take a look at a specific piece of writing that you have so we are able to give you one to one feedback tailored to your writing and offer you some opportunities for revisions and ways to improve as an academic writing.

These are all great services and resources for you so I would encourage you all to take advantage of them if you feel that they are necessary.

With that then, again on behalf of Kacy thank you. We are going to wrap up this webinar, I hope everyone has a great night or day. Goodbye.

[End of webinar]