Attacking the "Expert Blindspot"

Computer Science Mathematics Teaching Center
December 9, 2020

If you’re cycling in the Tour de France, or swimming in the Olympics, chances are it might be difficult to remember what it was like to learn how to ride a bike or swim. But in order to teach a new rider or swimmer, remembering what it was like to learn could be your best asset as a teacher.

The same is true for Denison faculty who are experts in their respective fields. What once took considerable concentration is now second nature — at times it can be a challenge for expert instructors to understand the learning needs of novice students. This is known as an ”expert blindspot.”

One of the best ways to combat expert blindspot is to think as a novice learner. One silver lining of the coronavirus pandemic is that it has thrust faculty into novel learning environments and forced them to consider how best to learn under such conditions. In effect, professors are learning new pedagogical methods and stepping out of their regular teaching zones.

Another way to control for expert blind spot is to learn an entirely new skill. Enter the Rubik’s Challenge. In conjunction with faculty colleagues at Furman University, Denison faculty members will learn to solve the Rubik’s cube in five minutes or less.

Organized by the Center for Learning and Teaching at Denison University and the Faculty Development Center at Furman, faculty participants will have about six weeks to learn the cube. Each week they’ll learn various levels of strategies and resources. And as the journey progresses, faculty will share reflections on their learning experience and how it relates to their classroom.

And just to make things a little more interesting, some delicious treats are on the line. If Furman has a larger percentage of faculty learning the cube, Denison will humbly send a package of the famous central-Ohio confection - the buckeye – to celebrate Furman’s success. However, when (and we do mean WHEN) Denison ultimately wins the challenge, we will enjoy some of that famous South Carolina peanut brittle - the Furman version of humble pie.

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