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Kirwan Institute releases the nation’s first free implicit bias training for K-12 education

The Kirwan Institute released the first public and free online implicit bias training geared toward K-12 educators. Credit: Akayla Gardner | Lantern Reporter

Ohio State’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity turned its research into action with the release of the nation’s first free online implicit bias training for K-12 educators on Aug. 29.

The institute focuses its research and events on institutional, structural and political injustices affecting minorities.

The institute conducted research on how implicit bias — defined on the institute’s website as “the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner” — can lead to disparities in school discipline and suspension rates for students of color among many of its reports focused on youth.

“Something as simple as how you wear your hair to school can have an effect on the quality of your education,” said Preshuslee Thompson, a research and facilitation specialist who recorded voice-overs and the final scenario for the training.

The training has been two years in the making and was created in partnership with the Schott Foundation for Public Education.

Senior research associate Kelly Capatosto spearheaded the development of the training and leads the Race and Cognition team at the institute. She has authored several research reports on implicit bias and racial disparities in society.

“It just was a really natural fit for me to be able to look at implicit bias or be able to understand how instances of racism, sexism and oppression can still happen even though on the surface most people report that they are very equitable and very inclusive,” Capatosto said.

Capatosto said the course was purposefully developed to be brief and accessible. Users can take breaks and come back to the training.

It is broken into four modules featuring videos, scenarios and activities with real-world application.

The institute hosts weekly discussions on topics of inequality that are open to the public and used community feedback in designing the training.

Thompson said the institute received positive feedback from the community, and more than 80 people have taken the training so far.

There are no formal partnerships between school districts or Ohio State departments and the Kirwan Institute, but it encourages all education departments to advocate the use of its training.

Although the curriculum is specifically created with K-12 educators in mind, it is applicable to all who are interested in learning more about implicit bias and how it affects education.

The training can be accessed at http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/implicit-bias-training/.

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