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Awareness of Context, Bias, & Assumptions

Submitted by Lori Britt

This activity will help participants to identify their own assumptions about an issue and put those assumptions in plain view of others during a discussion. This activity will demonstrate how these judgments affect how we communicate with others.

average rating is 5 out of 5, based on 1 votes, rating(s)
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Learning Goals

  • Encourage honest introspection about one’s beliefs, values, and biases.

  • Learn how to use the knowledge of biases and assumptions in a positive way.


Set Up: Prepare for the Activity

Provide sheets of paper, colored markers, and tape.

Organize participants into small groups (4-6 ppl).

Begin by introducing the learning goals of this activity.

Step One: Individually Reflect on Biases & Assumptions (5 min)

Give each small group a controversial topic to discuss. For example:

  • The government should provide universal basic income to all citizens.

Before engaging in discussion, ask each participant to write down any preconceived ideas, biases, or pre-formed opinions about the topic on a large piece of paper.

Ask participants to tape the piece of paper to the front of their desk.

Step Two: Suspend Biases & Assumptions (15 min)

Participants are now, literally, “suspending” their assumptions about the topic. Take a few moments to allow the groups to review the assumptions in front of them.

Model how to constructively ask for clarification about any assumptions:

  • What do you mean by this?

  • Where does this assumption come from?

  • Can you give me an example or context for this?

Instruct participants not to criticize or debate the value of the assumptions.

Step Three: Engage in Small Group Discussion (20 min)

Ask participants to discuss the prompt in small groups. Encourage them to explore various dimensions or elements of the prompt and examine it from multiple angles or perspectives.

Invite participants to revise their assumptions as the discussion progresses. Invite discussants to constructively point out assumptions and biases as the discussion continues.

Step Four: Debrief as a Full Group (10 min)


  • What impact, if any, did “suspending” your assumptions have on your own contributions to the discussion?

  • How did knowing the assumptions of others affect your own communication in the group?

  • Did you communicate differently with any individual because of their assumptions? Because of your assumptions?





Critical Collaboration

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average rating is 5 out of 5

May 28, 2024 at 1:33:05 AM

average rating is 5 out of 5

May 28, 2024 at 1:31:01 AM

average rating is 5 out of 5

February 14, 2024 at 1:03:34 AM

average rating is 5 out of 5

February 14, 2024 at 1:02:20 AM

average rating is 5 out of 5

February 11, 2024 at 3:55:15 AM

average rating is 5 out of 5

January 4, 2024 at 7:22:22 PM

average rating is 5 out of 5

December 12, 2023 at 11:56:40 PM

average rating is 5 out of 5

Lori Britt

October 3, 2023 at 5:00:05 PM

Have done this in the past, but today a group really blew me away. I did this as a Fishbowl with 7 students taking roles. Prior to the converstaion they could seek input from a few other students about what which decision they think the person in their role would support and why. I also asked them to come up with some things that were concerns for them. This 10 minute of prep time helped my role play participants really embody and feel confident in their roles. Great discussion about what deliberation looks like in practice and about how power can impact conversations and how a facilitator can try and minimize these power imbalances. I used the scenario above and assigned these roles (I was not sure my students woul be able to consider roles that would offer different perspectives): • Facilitator (non-voting) • Mayor • High school teacher • 17-year-old high school student • Transportation planner for the region • Local business owner • Economic development office for the region (your community and the surrounding communities served by the train) • 50-year-old who lost his job last year and who has been on unemployment

average rating is 4 out of 5


September 20, 2023 at 5:18:02 AM


average rating is 5 out of 5


September 20, 2023 at 5:17:25 AM

very good

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