Critical Thinking & Information Literacy
Across the Curriculum
Identifying Biases and Preconceptions-Part 2
Instructor: A group discussion activity in preparation for Essay
This discussion activity asks students to
delineate audience needs before they begin planning their essays. It was
developed because we discovered that students who did not perform well on the
essay assignment had not thought enough about what kind of information their
audience ("the boss") will need. They wrote from their own perspective and
needs, but could not put themselves in the place of the person who receives the
Small group discussion: Identifying the audience's
preconceptions, needs and biases
Students will work in groups of 4-5
to answer the following questions. All group members will take notes, since all
will generate answers for their own audiences. The notes will allow them both to
contribute to the large group discussion and tailor their proposals to their
What preconceptions does your boss have about how well your current
computer setup meets the company's needs? Besides more general preconceptions,
think about the correlation between the tasks you do and how you use the
computer to do those tasks. Does your boss understand the importance of this
What needs does your boss have, related to your job, that currently aren't
What biases does your boss have that might prevent him/her from approving
What company responsibilities does your boss have that might prevent
him/her from approving your proposal?
discussion: categorizing preconceptions, needs, and biases
class will convene in a large discussion group. Students will report their
answers to the small group questions. Other students will record their answers
on the chalkboard. Once a list has been made, students will be asked to answer
the following questions:
What preconceptions do all or most bosses have about how well current
systems meets their company's needs?
What biases do all or most bosses have that might prevent them from
approving new computer equipment proposals?
What company responsibilities do all or most bosses have that might
prevent them from approving computer equipment proposals?
Students will be required to turn
in their list of their boss's preconceptions, needs and biases, plus additional
notes that explain how these problems are being addressed in the proposal.