Bulldozing Bias (15 Jul 2020)

Vikki Hill & Joel Simpson: UAL Creative Mindsets: Bias in Arts HE 

Image of Bulldozing Bias poster, advertising call for contributions for event on 15th July 2020. Image of a woman's side profile, made from a collage of portrait photos.

UAL Creative Mindsets (developed from the OfS-funded, Catalyst research intervention Changing Mindsets piloted in 2017) aims to close attainment differentials by developing growth mindsets (Dweck, 2000) in both students and staff and reducing stereotype threat (Steele & Aronson, 1995) and implicit bias (Staats, 2014) as barriers to learning. Avoiding a student deficit model (Solorzano & Yosso, 2001); UAL Creative Mindsets consists of 2 workshops – one that focuses on mindsets, failure and challenge and the other on implicit bias and stereotype threat.

In the bias workshops, we draw upon Devine’s (2012) bias habit-breaking strategies and apply these to different contexts, such as curriculum design, creative practice and inclusive pedagogy. From October to December 2019, over 2,100 Year 1 students and 40 staff attended a workshop and we are working to embed this across the university within the curriculum and attainment-focused staff development offers. We have positioned this work as trans-disciplinary drawing upon educational theory and psychology, but contextualizing it within the wider, social science discourse of structural and systemic inequality including decolonizing, social justice and anti-racist approaches. Furthermore, the sessions we have delivered are bespoke to the creative discipline – such as Illustration; Media and Communications; Costume for Performance, Graphic Design and Fine Art.

We would like to present our work and offer an opportunity to discuss both the opportunities and complexities of our positioning of implicit bias work and to share thoughts and experiences with others across the sector.