Monday, August 19, 2013
Eye dominance has nothing to do with kinky leather or safe words but instead refers to the phenomenon that when the brain processes visual information, it tends to favor one eyeball over the other. In this column from the Chronicle of Higher Ed, the ProfHacker offers a simple test for determining which of your own eyes is dominant (it has nothing to do with whether you are right or left-handed). Armed with that knowledge you can then make the necessary adjustments to have better eye contact, and hence better connect, with everyone in the classroom (or courtroom, as the case may be).
Because of the distance between our eyes, they don’t see the same thing. Yet, when your binocular vision is working correctly, you see only one image, rather than two. That’s because your brain chooses the images from one eye as the lead. In most people, your brain will have a tendency to follow one eye most of the time in processing visual information.
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So what does this have to do with teaching? If you have strong eye dominance, you will tend to look at some parts of the classroom more than others. Being aware of your eye dominance can help you adjust your position and turn to look at the corner or edge of the room you might otherwise overlook.
In addition to your natural ocular tendency, the size and shape of your classroom will also determine how much of an effect you notice. It’s easier to see all the students in a large auditorium-style classroom than it is in a small rectangular room where they are spread out to either side of the instructor.
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Learning to sweep your gaze from side to side in a large class is part of connecting with all of your students, yet many of us will naturally favor one side. Becoming aware of your ocular dominance and working with it, rather than against it, can help you teach with greater ease and effectiveness.