Cultural Bias in Online College Courses: This Inequity in Higher Education Should Anger Everyone
My emerging tutoring passion is assisting ESL college students with their coursework. Most of them must also hold full-time jobs to support themselves and often their families as well. Many require online courses to get college educations. They could not earn a college degree any other way.
Do textbook publishing companies realize how much cultural bias is written into their online ancillary (supplemental) materials? Do teachers of online college courses realize how hopeless these students feel about merely passing a class when their grades depend on online multiple-choice exams consisting of 60 items to be completed in 60 minutes (60 in 60), for example? This may be a subtle form of cultural bias, but bias it is.
Frankly, as a native speaker of American English with a master’s degree in journalism from University of Wisconsin—Madison, I’m not sure I could pass a 60 in 60 exam. I would like to challenge the instructors who teach these online courses and college administrators who authorize use of publishing companies' tests to sit for one of these tests with me. Would YOU pass? Would any of us pass?
For more overt (and heartbreaking) cultural bias, just add just one instance of cultural bias in misuse of idioms. Here's an example from a current web quiz for a chapter about adolescence in a developmental psychology textbook crushing one of my brightest ESL college students: The illusion of invulnerability is best defined by the phrase: (a) "once bitten, twice shy" (b) "nothing is worth the risk of dying" (c) "slow and steady wins the race" (d) "dangerous but fun."
Is this fair?