Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Implicit bias is prejudicial behavior towards members of a specified social group or category reflecting cognitive processes that occur below the level of conscious awareness (De Houwer, 2019). The generally assumed root of implicit bias is that prejudicial behaviors express unacknowledged or suppressed prejudicial beliefs. This assumption is derived from the widespread dualist perspective that mind is the essential aspect of the human being and drives all behaviors (Frostmann & Burgmer, 2015). Consequently, most antiracist pedagogies focus on influencing the individual’s beliefs (Kishimoto, 2018; Leddy & O’Neil, 2022; Welton et al., 2018). However, comprehensive studies have shown these interventions aimed at reducing implicit bias have little effect on subsequent behavior (Forscher et al., 2019; Lai et al., 2016). This study provided an alternative pedagogical approach to addressing implicit bias from an associationist perspective. From this view, biased actions are based on associations that are not rooted in ideation, conscious or otherwise. The central core of our instructional unit for preservice STEM teachers (PSTs) is a strategy of perceptual reframing--refocusing on neutral aspects of each student—with a view to disrupting “regimes of attention” that underlie prejudicial practices (Veissière et al., 2020). The purpose of this study was to evaluate this pedagogical unit’s impact on students’ understandings of implicit bias and of the Perceptual Reframing strategy. This case study analyzed recordings of students’ discussions, as well as two written assignments. The findings showed that students struggled with nondualist interpretations of human behavior. Most PSTs were unable to understand how systematic prejudicial actions might notreflect underlying prejudicial beliefs, and consequently to understand the Perceptual Reframing strategy. Suggested revisions to the unit are discussed. This alternative perspective on implicit bias could lead to lasting changes in how antiracist pedagogy is conceived and implemented.



Committee Chair

Kirshner, David

Available for download on Tuesday, December 08, 2026