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Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning




The role ideology plays in the university classroom is a continual issue of debate. A common public perception has been that academics are a liberal elite, and that they, in the words of conservative activist David Horowitz, “behave as political advocates in the classroom, express opinions in a partisan manner on controversial issues irrelevant to the academic subject, and even grade students in a manner designed to enforce their conformity to professorial prejudices” (2007, p. 188). The Chronicle of Higher Education demonstrated how pervasive this view has become with a 2004 public opinion poll that found 51% of 1,000 individuals surveyed in the United States (U.S.) believed college faculty improperly introduced a liberal bias into their classrooms (A Special Report). In contrast, the American Association of University Professors’ Statement on Professional Ethics states “As teachers, professors encourage the free pursuit of learning in their students … Professors demonstrate respect for students as individuals and adhere to their proper roles as intellectual guides and counselors” (2009, p. 4). There is clearly a disconnect between what faculty profess to do and what many outside of higher education perceive to be happening. If this disconnect can be addressed through changes in pedagogy, even if only partially, then such changes should be explored. This study explores how student reflective thinking, student perceptions of ideological bias, and student reactions to ideological bias interact. Understanding the relationship between these three variables may help educators communicate more effectively with students in an effort to foster open minded inquiry.


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