Examining Implicit Biases Through Metacognition

Examining Implicit Biases Through Metacognition

On the third Monday of January, we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As we honor Dr. King’s work in the Civil Rights Movement, we invite you to consider one way to answer his call to combat racism — to examine implicit bias in education.

Behavioral Science & the Civil Rights Movement

In September 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered an address entitled The Role of Behavioral Scientists in the Civil Rights Movement. In the last year, behavioral scientists have answered the call(link opens in new tab/window)↗ and begun examining the role they can play in combatting racism. They describe that, while outward expressions of racial discriminatory behavior are widely unacceptable, there is a gap between “expressed behaviors regarding race (explicit) and what is thought: implicit bias.”

Implicit Bias in Education

Implicit bias in education can manifest as unconscious racial or socioeconomic bias towards students, which can affect how teachers help students set goals and understand their learning profiles. Assumptions about a student’s background and aspirations can be harmful as it is important to consider the student as an individual and understand their unique identity and goals. This is a topic ResearchILD staff have explored with our 2022-2023 cohort of Executive Function and Equity Fellows.

How Educators Can Answer the Call

One way that educators can answer the call to combat racism is to examine their own implicit biases(link opens in new tab/window)↗; this is an important part of developing metacognition and self-understanding to become more equity-minded in our approach to EF strategy instruction. To understand your assumptions about students’ learning profiles and their capability for academic success, explore these tools for measuring implicit bias(link opens in new tab/window)↗.


  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org