WIUM Tristates Public Radio

The Impact of Academic Bias

Oct 27, 2013

A study done at Western Illinois University suggests some of the rhetoric about the impact of academic bias might be exaggerated.

About 300 students responded to a survey put together by Craig Tollini, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

Craig Tollini
Credit Rich Egger

He said the survey results indicate that academic bias does not influence every student the same way. Some respondents said they will alter their beliefs or participation in class based on a perceived bias from a teacher, but many others said they would not be impacted.

“So this kind of this idea that students are weak and malleable – I don’t think that’s quite true,” Tollini said.

Tollini acknowledged it’s a small sample and that more research should be done. But he said the findings should help dispel some of the myths about the impact of academic bias.

“I think one of the general takeaways is that a lot of the rhetoric and some of the academic research -- some of the more public research -- sort of centers on this assumption that bias has an impact on students,” Tollini said.

“And the results would indicate that is not true across the board.”

Tollini said the survey was inspired in part by coverage of the so-called “culture wars” on college campuses.