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Lab for Equity in Action

Mission Statement

Housed in the College of Public Service (CPS), the UHD Lab for Equity in Action is dedicated to addressing inequities and promoting social justice through the combined efforts of Criminal Justice, Education, and Social Work. The Lab’s goals are to: promote community-based research and engagement; develop signature interventions aimed at reducing inequities; become a hub for equity focused research; and provide training and support for the UHD and Houston community as we promote justice and equality with those who are training for, or are already in, public service careers.​

Vision Statement

The Lab for Equity in Action is committed to empowering our faculty, staff, students, and community partners to engage in meaningful social and policy change by focusing on the following areas:

  • School to Prison Pipeline…dismantle disparate sentencing, grading, and punishment outcomes that push students out of the school setting and into the justice system.
  • Teacher Development…provide ongoing support for the development and sustainment of effective teaching practices that in turn promote student achievement in grades K-16.
  • Implicit Bias… raise awareness and understanding about the underlying causes and long-term impacts of unconscious biases.
  • Engagement with the Houston Community…establish meaningful and sustained relationships with the community to collaboratively address issues affecting the health and well-being of our community and its members. 
  • Advocacy… promote the holistic well-being of all members of our community, through social inclusion, social change, empowerment, and problem solving processes.
  • Civic Identity…foster an environment validating diverse lived experiences, develop a sense of belonging among other change makers, and foster a sense of responsibility that leads to a lifelong, and relationship-led, commitment to the public good.​​


  • Implicit bias refers to unconscious and automatic negative biases toward an individual because they represent a member of an oppressed group. Implicit biases have been found to have multiple deleterious impacts on oppressed groups.
  • Although a number of interventions have been developed (i.e. contact approach) a more meaningful approach to reducing biases is targeting underlying negative stereotypes, illuminating them, and providing alternative ways of thinking and behaving.
  • Recent evidence found that implicit bias from teachers against Black students starts in Kindergarten and influences multiple teacher behaviors (Gilliam et al., 2016).
  • Twenty percent of Black male students receive out-of-school suspension compared to just 6% of White male students (U.S. Department of Education, 2016).
  • Teachers generally have the highest expectations toward Asian American and White students, while Latinx and African American students receive the lowest teacher expectations (Tenenbaum & Ruck, 2007). 

Specific Objectives

  • Increase recognition and awareness in CPS students to prepare to work in diverse spaces
  • Increase recognition and awareness in current and incoming faculty to support effective classroom culturally responsive instruction
  • Provide support to local community colleges, partnering school districts, and support local law enforcement and social services personnel to become more culturally sensitive in the workplace.
  • Create a self-sustaining Lab with a Director and staff.


  1. Assess and construct interventions with CPS Faculty and Staff on implicit biases.
  2. Survey pre-service teacher's explicit attitudes and implicit biases and document pre/post values
  3. Create classroom scenarios that would elicit implicit bias and video tape pre-service teacher student's behavior. Have trained bias raters review pre-service teacher student behavior and provide on-going individual feedback and progress.
  4. Training of student teacher supervisors to address implicit bias in the classroom and assess implicit bias as a key component of student teaching. Utilizing the habit-breaking intervention is based on the prejudice habit model (Devine, 1989), which proposes that enduring change in biases, such as implicit bias, that occur unintentionally can be achieved by treating unintentional bias as an unwanted habit that can be broken through a combination of motivation, awareness, and effort. This multifaceted intervention was designed to address common stumbling blocks on the path to change. The following strategies inform the intervention:

Stereotype replacement—involves replacing stereotypical responses with non-stereotypical responses. This strategy involves recognizing that a response is based on stereotypes, labeling the response as such, and reflecting on why the response occurred. Next, considerations on how the biased response could be avoided and replacing it with an unbiased response (Monteith, 1993).

Counter-stereotypic imaging—involves imagining in detail counter-stereotypic others (Blair et al., 2001). These others can be abstract (e.g., smart Black people), famous (e.g., Barack Obama), or non-famous (e.g., a personal friend). The strategy makes positive exemplars salient and accessible when challenging a stereotype's validity.

Individuation—relies on preventing stereotypic inferences by obtaining specific information about group members (Brewer, 1988; Fiske & Neuberg, 1990), which aims to help people evaluate members of the target group based on personal, rather than group-based, attributes.

Perspective taking—involves taking the first-person perspective of a member of a stereotyped group. Perspective taking increases psychological closeness to the stigmatized group, which ameliorates automatic group-based evaluations (Galinsky & Moskowitz, 2000).

Increasing opportunities for contact—involves seeking opportunities to encounter and engage in positive interactions with out-group members. Increased contact can eliminate  implicit bias through a wide variety of mechanisms, including altering the cognitive representations of the group or by directly improving evaluations of the group (Pettigrew, 1998; Pettigrew & Tropp, 2006).

Measurable Outcomes:

  • % of Faculty/teachers that complete workshops/activities in a given time perio
  • Pre/post implicit bias scores compared to a comparison group
  • Implicit bias ratings in mock classroom compared to a comparison group
  • Implicit bias ratings in student teaching classrooms compared to a comparison group

Proposed Research Agenda:

  1. Assess overt behavior, subtle behavior, and macroaggressions over time comparing those who did and did not receive the intervention.
  2. Assess racial attitude change over time.
  3. Identify maintenance strategies for racially-conscious teaching.
  4. Assess implicit bias of teachers from the students' perspectives

Last updated 1/12/2021 5:57 AM