Alumnus Focus

Duncan Pike: Liberal Studies and Physical Education

Since graduating VIU with a BA in Liberal Studies and Physical Education in 2004 Duncan has completed an M.Sc. in Kinesiology at Lakehead University and is now president of his own company, Sport Performance Specialists. He is the world's leading expert in the theory of Visual Feedback, and delivers coaching and coach training through Sport Performance Specialists, and subsidiary SPS Power Skating (www.sps-powerskating.ca), in addition to designing and selling sport Lab™ turnkey visual feedback systems. SPS has clients from Canada, the United State and Europe. Currently, SPS is pursuing support contracts for the 2010 winter games in Vancouver and Whistler.

"The education I received in the Liberal Studies program at Vancouver Island University has been an immense help to me, academically, personally and professionally. My master's thesis, Investigating the Effects of Visually Augmented Video Feedback on Performance of an Ice Hockey Skating Skill, investigated a question that had received almost no previous attention in motor learning or kinesiology literature. Because it was so new, this required an immense investment in finding, aligning and coordinating previous research on observational learning, demonstrations and modelling, knowledge of performance, knowledge of results, kinematic feedback, and other topics in biomechanics and motor learning. I had to sift through over 200 sources, spanning more than a century, to find the information to create an original theory in how the brain processes and utilizes feedback displayed as part of a video demonstration. I am certain that a student with a purely scientific background would have been lost in this endeavour. The close reading, critical thinking and logical analysis skills I acquired as a Liberal Studies student prepared me for this immense task. The importance of writing and argumentative skills to a research scientist are often overlooked, but cannot be underestimated.

"Not only the topics and works explored in the Liberal Studies program , but also the opportunity to debate them openly and with mediation from learned faculty, provides one the great opportunity to develop and clarify his own beliefs. This was certainly the case for me. Western society is a collection of vastly divergent views and perspectives, and these were well represented by the works selected. This allowed every student to explore ideas and issues that had personal resonance. The opportunity for open discussion as well as formal argument, both written and oral, forced students to understand an issue thoroughly enough to present their positions intelligently in various forums. Just as importantly, the Liberal Studies program successfully instills a love and appreciation of knowledge and art in all its forms. Most students at VIU come from small communities. Being a Toronto-transplant, it was easy to see the lower profile of the artistic community on Vancouver Island. Liberal Studies exposes its students to the visual and performing arts so that they may hopefully become patrons and supporters in the future. I, for one, became a season ticket holder of the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra during my graduate studies.

"Since establishing SPS Power Skating in 2003, and now running Sport Performance Specialists, my company has become increasingly centred on new and innovative ideas and techniques. With an unfamiliar product, it is critically important to convince the consumer of the product's value. The range of customers for SPS is very wide indeed: from minor hockey parents and coaches, to business to business sales, to similar companies needing specialised coach training for their employees. Each customer needs specific information, and needs it presented in a particular way. Selecting what to emphasise to each audience and how to illustrate it is fundamentally the same as preparing any persuasive piece. To be successful, every businessman must be able to view his company and his products from the perspectives an expert, an unknowledgeable consumer, and everything in between. I credit Liberal Studies with teaching me  that skill."

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