Think back to the first post on mastery. Expert blindspot is caused by information obvious to the master and imperceptable to the student, causing both sides to be baffled by the behavior of the other.

This can be an issue with knowledge organization. Students may know pieces of information, but don’t have enough connections to recall them at the right time or reason an appropriate action. In fact, one of the core differences between novices and masters is the quality and density of connections between facts.

Research demonstrates that conflicting beliefs are more common with a low density of connections. In contrast, connection-dense knowledge reduces conflicts, improves recall speed, and improves recall in correct situations. Isolated knowledge must be recalled directly. However, experts can use connected knowledge to reason new information without directly recalling it.

Further, these connections build on themselves. Experts can make higher-order connections, or connections between groups of connected information. These connections pack more information, which improves performance, recall, and learning. However, they also increase the boundaries between teachers and students. Students may not have the necessary knowledge structures to make connections experts see as obvious.

Deeper connections can be facilitated, but not forced. The key is that knowledge structures will form to fit the way information is used. For example, western cultures do not differentiate between paternal and maternal extended family (aunts, uncles, etc) because we don’t expect them to behave differently. However, many Asian cultures do have separate words for each side because the culture expects each side to fill different roles in a person’s life.

Thus, information should be intentionally presented in each way students are expected to use it.

Knowledge structures form to fit their use

Signs of Failure

  • Seemingly inexplicable contradicting actions or desires

  • Can only recall info in narrow contexts

  • Unable to draw meaningful conclusions from knowledge


  • Advance Organizer: Defines heuristics, processes, decision trees, or other prepared ways to help students organize new information and form meaningful connections. Research demonstrates a 60-350% increase in student recall.

  • Chunking: Create meaningful groupings or relationships in the data that allow many facts to be remembered as one

  • Concept maps: Explicitly graph how you organize information in different subjects or situations

  • Explicitly link to previous content

  • Assign different tasks that require multiple knowledge organizations

  • Why Questions: explaining worked problems, contrasting cases, and constructing analogies can all forge higher quality connections