Rubik’s Cube Challenge

Challenge Overview

Join colleagues for a multi-week Rubik’s Cube Challenge: An Expert Blindspot Adventure this summer, May 8th through August 1st. Our recent experience with pandemic teaching has thrust us into novel learning environments and forced us to consider how best to learn under such conditions. One common challenge of expert instructors is understanding the learning needs of novice students, known as an expert blind spot. In this challenge, participants will learn how to solve the Rubik’s Cube with a group of colleagues and gain insight about the learning (and teaching) process. We will provide the cube, as well as weekly tips, strategies, and reflection and discussion prompts shared via an online discussion platform. Already know how to solve the cube? You can still participate by selecting a new skill/concept challenge and sharing your adventure with the group!

Decorative flyer for the Rubik's Cube Challenge - image of a cat in a top hat with a Rubik's Cube by its paws.

Challenge Description

To an experienced driver, driving is effortless and automatic, requiring little conscious awareness to do well. But for the novice driver, driving is complex and effortful, involving the conscious and gradual development of many distinct skills and abilities. To develop proficiency through our courses, students must acquire component skills, practice integrating them, and know when to apply what they have learned. Proficiency refers to the attainment of a high degree of competence within a particular area. It is easy to assume that, as faculty, having achieved proficiency within our own disciplinary and scholarly domain, we are well-positioned to help novices develop proficiency. But this is not necessarily the case. Ironically, expertise can be a liability as well as an advantage when it comes to teaching.*

When expert instructors are blind to the learning needs of novice students, it is known as an expert blind spot. Consider how master chefs might instruct novice cooks to “sauté vegetables until they are done,” “cook until the sauce is a good consistency,” or “add spices to taste.” Whereas such instructions are clear to other chefs, they do not illuminate matters to novice learners, who do not know what “done” entails, what a “good consistency” is, or what spices would create a desired taste. Here we see the unconscious competence of the expert meet the incomplete knowledge of the novice. The likely result is that the novel learner misses vital information, makes unnecessary mistakes, or functions inefficiently, sometimes leading to confusion and discouragement. Although they might muddle through on their own, it is unlikely that they will learn with optimal efficiency or thoroughness.

One of the best ways to combat the expert blindspot, is to think as a novice learner. But how can we do this with all of us so advanced in our relative fields? Welcome to the Rubik’s Challenge: An Expert Blindspot Adventure. Learn how to solve the Rubik’s Cube with a group of colleagues and gain insight about the learning (and teaching) process. We will provide the cube, as well as weekly tips, strategies and prompts. Share your learning experiences with your peers and become more aware of your own classroom instruction through an online discussion platform.

  • Ambrose, S., Bridges, M., DiPietro, M., Lovett, M.C., Norman, M.K. editors. (2010). How Learning
    Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Thank you for your interest in joining the Rubik's Cube Challenge. Registration for this Challenge has closed. Please email Megan at if you would like to be added to an interest list for future challenges!