Threshold Concepts and Professional Formation James Atherton (at the University of Lincoln) 15 November 2011
(This is the Lion Gate at Mycenae, through which Agamemnon may have passed on his way to Troy. 1300 BCE)
Ways of thinking and practising The presentation looks at these diffuse but important features of professional disciplines
Ways of thinking and practising The presentation looks at these diffuse but important features of professional disciplines...
Ways of thinking and practising A major issue in vocational/ professional education
Ways of thinking and practising A major issue in vocational/ professional education Consider what light threshold concepts...
Ways of thinking and practising A major issue in vocational/ professional education Consider what light threshold concepts...
Ways of thinking and practising A major issue in vocational/ professional education Consider what light threshold concepts...
If this vague and indistinctly bounded shape represents the WTP of a professional...
Political Background Legal  Aspects Research methods Ethics Philosophies  / models of Practice Discipline- Specific Theory...
Political Background Legal  Aspects Research methods Ethics Philosophies  / models of Practice Discipline- Specific Theory...
Political Background Legal  Aspects Research methods Ethics Philosophies  / models of Practice Discipline- Specific Theory...
<ul><li>“ He’ll pass the assessments and get his degree, but he’ll never  think like   an engineer.” </li></ul>
<ul><li>“ He’ll pass the assessments and get his degree, but he’ll never  think like   an engineer.” </li></ul>As a former...
Situated Learning  (a.k.a. “sitting next to Nellie”) Initial interaction is with other new entrants Progress is being allo...
Situated Learning  (a.k.a. “sitting next to Nellie”) Initial interaction is with other new entrants Progress is being allo...
Based on Wenger E (1998)  Communities of Practice  Cambridge; CUP p. 63 Participation Reification meaning world experience...
So the learning comes from the workplace and the existing practitioners Based on Wenger E (1998)  Communities of Practice ...
So the learning comes from the workplace and the existing practitioners But there is the problem that in the real world, n...
Rite of Passage Initiation Marginal (Liminal) Status Return New Status Time Initial  Status
Rite of Passage Initiation Marginal (Liminal) Status Return New Status Time Whatever the mechanism, the acquisition of a p...
Ways of thinking and practising A major issue in vocational/ professional education Consider what light threshold concepts...
Ways of thinking and practising A major issue in vocational/ professional education Consider what light threshold concepts...
Ways of thinking and practising A major issue in vocational/ professional education Consider what light threshold concepts...
<ul><li>&quot;A threshold concept can be considered as akin to a  portal ,  </li></ul><ul><li>opening up a  new and previo...
<ul><li>&quot;A threshold concept can be considered as akin to a  portal ,  </li></ul><ul><li>opening up a  new and previo...
Hence all the pictures of gates, doors, arches, etc.
Hence all the pictures of gates, doors, arches, etc. But a colleague from (I think) the University of Prince Edward Island...
Convergent thinking - STEM (?)
Convergent thinking - STEM (?) For present purposes it is convenient to adopt Hudson’s distinction between “convergent” an...
Convergent thinking - STEM (?) For present purposes it is convenient to adopt Hudson’s distinction between “convergent” an...
Subject learning outcomes 1 2 8 7 11 9 10 6 5 3 4 learning outcomes 2, 3, 7 and 9 are threshold concepts
Subject learning outcomes 1 2 8 7 11 9 10 6 5 3 4 learning outcomes 2, 3, 7 and 9 are threshold concepts Asked to operatio...
Convergent thinking - STEM (?) Divergent thinking - arts and humanities(?)
Convergent thinking - STEM (?) Divergent thinking - arts and humanities(?) In softer and more divergent disciplines, howev...
Convergent thinking - STEM (?) Divergent thinking - arts and humanities(?) In softer and more divergent disciplines, howev...
<ul><li>Threshold concepts have both  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>epistemological  and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ontological   ...
<ul><li>Threshold concepts have both  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>epistemological  and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ontological   ...
Time Knowledge/ skill etc.
Time Knowledge/ skill etc. This is a stylised “learning curve”, a fantasy of incremental progress
Time Knowledge/ skill etc. This is a stylised “learning curve”, a fantasy of incremental progress ...and this is the more ...
Time Knowledge/ skill etc. This is a stylised “learning curve”, a fantasy of incremental progress ...and this is the more ...
Reversing the normal order of discussion, TCs are frequently “troublesome”, counter-intuitive and potentially disturbing
<ul><li>“ Wood is made out of thin air and sunlight? Get  real !” </li></ul>
<ul><li>“ Wood is made out of thin air and sunlight? Get  real !” </li></ul>Photosynthesis? You won’t get far in biology w...
<ul><li>“ Wood is made out of thin air and sunlight? Get  real !” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Price has nothing to do with the cos...
<ul><li>“ Wood is made out of thin air and sunlight? Get  real !” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Price has nothing to do with the cos...
<ul><li>“ Wood is made out of thin air and sunlight? Get  real !” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Price has nothing to do with the cos...
<ul><li>“ Wood is made out of thin air and sunlight? Get  real !” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Price has nothing to do with the cos...
<ul><li>“ Wood is made out of thin air and sunlight? Get  real !” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Price has nothing to do with the cos...
<ul><li>Keep your eye on the ball. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Keep your eye on the ball. </li></ul>Not all TCs are like that. Some are simple but no less critical
<ul><li>Keep your eye on the ball. </li></ul>Not all TCs are like that. Some are simple but no less critical And not all o...
<ul><li>“ Well, that was a waste of time. I could have been doing something/anything else more productively”  </li></ul><u...
<ul><li>“ Well, that was a waste of time. I could have been doing something/anything else more productively”  </li></ul><u...
Ways of thinking and practising A major issue in vocational/ professional education Consider what light threshold concepts...
Ways of thinking and practising A major issue in vocational/ professional education Consider what light threshold concepts...
Three possible forms which “threshold experiences” may take.
Three possible forms which “threshold experiences” may take. Note that “threshold experiences” has been adopted by Perkins...
Wash your hands properly Always use a hand basin provided  exclusively for  washing hands Use comfortably hot water. Rub y...
Wash your hands properly Always use a hand basin provided  exclusively for  washing hands Use comfortably hot water. Rub y...
Wash your hands properly Always use a hand basin provided  exclusively for  washing hands Use comfortably hot water. Rub y...
Wash your hands properly Always use a hand basin provided  exclusively for  washing hands Use comfortably hot water. Rub y...
<ul><li>“ Patriarchy is a threshold concept in women’s studies—a significant, defining concept that transforms students’ u...
<ul><li>“ Patriarchy is a threshold concept in women’s studies—a significant, defining concept that transforms students’ u...
A student who exceeds  expectations A student who  meets expectations A student who  fails to meet  expectations Can expla...
These are the assessment rubrics for the course; note the centrality of the concept of patriarchy for differentiation. The...
<ul><li>“ [how] my students become “stuck” and hopefully “unstuck” with the threshold concept of Whiteness and its very re...
<ul><li>“ [how] my students become “stuck” and hopefully “unstuck” with the threshold concept of Whiteness and its very re...
<ul><li>“ Awareness of   the concept that   'energy '  exists.     </li></ul><ul><li>Methods that I have used to bring abo...
<ul><li>“ Awareness of   the concept that   'energy '  exists.     </li></ul><ul><li>Methods that I have used to bring abo...
<ul><li>“ Awareness of   the concept that   'energy '  exists.     </li></ul><ul><li>Methods that I have used to bring abo...
<ul><li>“ Awareness of   the concept that   'energy '  exists.     </li></ul><ul><li>Methods that I have used to bring abo...
Plato;  Republic Book lll <ul><li>Citizens,  we shall say to them in our tale , you are brothers, yet God has framed you d...
Plato;  Republic Book lll <ul><li>Citizens,  we shall say to them in our tale , you are brothers, yet God has framed you d...
Ways of thinking and practising A major issue in vocational/ professional education Consider what light threshold concepts...
This is the part I didn’t really get round to talking about, but in which some of your questions suggested interest, becau...
<ul><li>“ The idea of threshold concepts carries an important pedagogical message:  </li></ul><ul><li>where we can find li...
<ul><li>“ The idea of threshold concepts carries an important pedagogical message:  </li></ul><ul><li>where we can find li...
http://www.doceo.co.uk/lincoln/
 
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Threshold Concepts and Professional Formation

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Annotated version of presentation at University of Lincoln, November 2011. References can be found at www.doceo.co.uk/lincoln/

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    1. 1. Threshold Concepts and Professional Formation James Atherton (at the University of Lincoln) 15 November 2011
    2. 2. (This is the Lion Gate at Mycenae, through which Agamemnon may have passed on his way to Troy. 1300 BCE)
    3. 3. Ways of thinking and practising The presentation looks at these diffuse but important features of professional disciplines
    4. 4. Ways of thinking and practising The presentation looks at these diffuse but important features of professional disciplines Or “WTP”
    5. 5. Ways of thinking and practising A major issue in vocational/ professional education
    6. 6. Ways of thinking and practising A major issue in vocational/ professional education Consider what light threshold concepts can throw on them
    7. 7. Ways of thinking and practising A major issue in vocational/ professional education Consider what light threshold concepts can throw on them ...and implications for curriculum and pedagogy
    8. 8. Ways of thinking and practising A major issue in vocational/ professional education Consider what light threshold concepts can throw on them ...and implications for curriculum and pedagogy Didn’t get to do much on this in the session—I’ll write about it
    9. 9.
    10. 10. If this vague and indistinctly bounded shape represents the WTP of a professional...
    11. 11. Political Background Legal Aspects Research methods Ethics Philosophies / models of Practice Discipline- Specific Theory Professional Studies Practice skills Technology Values Other contributory skills
    12. 12. Political Background Legal Aspects Research methods Ethics Philosophies / models of Practice Discipline- Specific Theory Professional Studies Practice skills Technology Values ...all these neat little boxes represent our efforts to devise organised courses to “cover” the formal knowledge, skills and WTP Other contributory skills
    13. 13. Political Background Legal Aspects Research methods Ethics Philosophies / models of Practice Discipline- Specific Theory Professional Studies Practice skills Technology Values But there are always bits of the WTP the formal curriculum cannot reach Other contributory skills
    14. 14. <ul><li>“ He’ll pass the assessments and get his degree, but he’ll never think like an engineer.” </li></ul>
    15. 15. <ul><li>“ He’ll pass the assessments and get his degree, but he’ll never think like an engineer.” </li></ul>As a former engineering lecturer colleague put it of one of his students.
    16. 16. Situated Learning (a.k.a. “sitting next to Nellie”) Initial interaction is with other new entrants Progress is being allowed to take on more key, or risky, tasks The boundary is constantly moving Initial interaction is with other new entrants Progress is being allowed to take on more key, or risky, tasks Note: Lave & Wenger explicitly reject this kind of depiction of their model The boundary is constantly moving Legitimate Peripheral Participation
    17. 17. Situated Learning (a.k.a. “sitting next to Nellie”) Initial interaction is with other new entrants Progress is being allowed to take on more key, or risky, tasks The boundary is constantly moving Initial interaction is with other new entrants Progress is being allowed to take on more key, or risky, tasks Note: Lave & Wenger explicitly reject this kind of depiction of their model The boundary is constantly moving Legitimate Peripheral Participation We could (and do) rely on the “community of practice” to teach this for us, and back off from it.
    18. 18. Based on Wenger E (1998) Communities of Practice Cambridge; CUP p. 63 Participation Reification meaning world experience negotiation living in the world membership acting interacting mutuality forms points of focus documents monuments instruments projection
    19. 19. So the learning comes from the workplace and the existing practitioners Based on Wenger E (1998) Communities of Practice Cambridge; CUP p. 63 Participation Reification meaning world experience negotiation living in the world membership acting interacting mutuality forms points of focus documents monuments instruments projection
    20. 20. So the learning comes from the workplace and the existing practitioners But there is the problem that in the real world, not all practice is best practice... Based on Wenger E (1998) Communities of Practice Cambridge; CUP p. 63 Participation Reification meaning world experience negotiation living in the world membership acting interacting mutuality forms points of focus documents monuments instruments projection
    21. 21. Rite of Passage Initiation Marginal (Liminal) Status Return New Status Time Initial Status
    22. 22. Rite of Passage Initiation Marginal (Liminal) Status Return New Status Time Whatever the mechanism, the acquisition of a professional identity entails a period of liminality Initial Status
    23. 23. Ways of thinking and practising A major issue in vocational/ professional education Consider what light threshold concepts can throw on them
    24. 24. Ways of thinking and practising A major issue in vocational/ professional education Consider what light threshold concepts can throw on them So this is where TCs come in.
    25. 25. Ways of thinking and practising A major issue in vocational/ professional education Consider what light threshold concepts can throw on them So this is where TCs come in. And also where the ideas become more personal/original/ speculative/ dubious/wrong!
    26. 26. <ul><li>&quot;A threshold concept can be considered as akin to a portal , </li></ul><ul><li>opening up a new and previously inaccessible way of thinking about something. </li></ul><ul><li>It represents a transformed way of understanding, or interpreting, or viewing something </li></ul><ul><li>without which the learner cannot progress .&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>(Meyer and Land, 2006:3) </li></ul>
    27. 27. <ul><li>&quot;A threshold concept can be considered as akin to a portal , </li></ul><ul><li>opening up a new and previously inaccessible way of thinking about something. </li></ul><ul><li>It represents a transformed way of understanding, or interpreting, or viewing something </li></ul><ul><li>without which the learner cannot progress .&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>(Meyer and Land, 2006:3) </li></ul>This is the closest we have to a definition of TCs so far
    28. 28. Hence all the pictures of gates, doors, arches, etc.
    29. 29. Hence all the pictures of gates, doors, arches, etc. But a colleague from (I think) the University of Prince Edward Island suggested this is the best image. The TARDIS is bigger on the inside than the outside!
    30. 30. Convergent thinking - STEM (?)
    31. 31. Convergent thinking - STEM (?) For present purposes it is convenient to adopt Hudson’s distinction between “convergent” and “divergent” thinking
    32. 32. Convergent thinking - STEM (?) For present purposes it is convenient to adopt Hudson’s distinction between “convergent” and “divergent” thinking On the whole, convergent or “harder” disciplines unfold in a more linear manner than “softer” ones, so it is easier to find their threshold concepts
    33. 33. Subject learning outcomes 1 2 8 7 11 9 10 6 5 3 4 learning outcomes 2, 3, 7 and 9 are threshold concepts
    34. 34. Subject learning outcomes 1 2 8 7 11 9 10 6 5 3 4 learning outcomes 2, 3, 7 and 9 are threshold concepts Asked to operationalise TCs in their discipline, a group of engineers had no trouble coming up with this.
    35. 35. Convergent thinking - STEM (?) Divergent thinking - arts and humanities(?)
    36. 36. Convergent thinking - STEM (?) Divergent thinking - arts and humanities(?) In softer and more divergent disciplines, however, the routes are less prescribed and clear
    37. 37. Convergent thinking - STEM (?) Divergent thinking - arts and humanities(?) In softer and more divergent disciplines, however, the routes are less prescribed and clear There may be several routes and indeed several equally valid destinations
    38. 38. <ul><li>Threshold concepts have both </li></ul><ul><ul><li>epistemological and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ontological elements </li></ul></ul>
    39. 39. <ul><li>Threshold concepts have both </li></ul><ul><ul><li>epistemological and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ontological elements </li></ul></ul>On the whole these are more prominent in convergent and harder disciplines, characterised by their technical nature... ...while these more personal aspects are more prominent in softer disciplines, and characterised by their normative nature
    40. 40. Time Knowledge/ skill etc.
    41. 41. Time Knowledge/ skill etc. This is a stylised “learning curve”, a fantasy of incremental progress
    42. 42. Time Knowledge/ skill etc. This is a stylised “learning curve”, a fantasy of incremental progress ...and this is the more realistic curve associated with learning a threshold concept
    43. 43. Time Knowledge/ skill etc. This is a stylised “learning curve”, a fantasy of incremental progress ...and this is the more realistic curve associated with learning a threshold concept in particular, this is the Liminal Trough
    44. 44. Reversing the normal order of discussion, TCs are frequently “troublesome”, counter-intuitive and potentially disturbing
    45. 45. <ul><li>“ Wood is made out of thin air and sunlight? Get real !” </li></ul>
    46. 46. <ul><li>“ Wood is made out of thin air and sunlight? Get real !” </li></ul>Photosynthesis? You won’t get far in biology without it.
    47. 47. <ul><li>“ Wood is made out of thin air and sunlight? Get real !” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Price has nothing to do with the cost of production? Rubbish!” </li></ul>
    48. 48. <ul><li>“ Wood is made out of thin air and sunlight? Get real !” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Price has nothing to do with the cost of production? Rubbish!” </li></ul>If you can’t get this, you are at a dead end in economics
    49. 49. <ul><li>“ Wood is made out of thin air and sunlight? Get real !” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Price has nothing to do with the cost of production? Rubbish!” </li></ul><ul><li>“ So you are saying that the fact that someone’s legs don’t work is not a disability? Come on !” </li></ul>
    50. 50. <ul><li>“ Wood is made out of thin air and sunlight? Get real !” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Price has nothing to do with the cost of production? Rubbish!” </li></ul><ul><li>“ So you are saying that the fact that someone’s legs don’t work is not a disability? Come on !” </li></ul>A little more problematic; but the argument is that not having working legs is an impairment: it is the fact that the environment is designed for people who can walk which is disabling.
    51. 51. <ul><li>“ Wood is made out of thin air and sunlight? Get real !” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Price has nothing to do with the cost of production? Rubbish!” </li></ul><ul><li>“ So you are saying that the fact that someone’s legs don’t work is not a disability? Come on !” </li></ul>A little more problematic; but the argument is that not having working legs is an impairment: it is the fact that the environment is designed for people who can walk which is disables those who can’t. And many disabled people and workers in the field argue that accepting this social (rather than medical ) model is essential for understanding and effective practice. (We’ll return to this later)
    52. 52. <ul><li>Keep your eye on the ball. </li></ul>
    53. 53. <ul><li>Keep your eye on the ball. </li></ul>Not all TCs are like that. Some are simple but no less critical
    54. 54. <ul><li>Keep your eye on the ball. </li></ul>Not all TCs are like that. Some are simple but no less critical And not all of them are “concepts”. This is a threshold skill for all ball games (as well as being a metaphorical principle for many other activities)
    55. 55. <ul><li>“ Well, that was a waste of time. I could have been doing something/anything else more productively” </li></ul><ul><li>(Overheard after a course Study Day) </li></ul>
    56. 56. <ul><li>“ Well, that was a waste of time. I could have been doing something/anything else more productively” </li></ul><ul><li>(Overheard after a course Study Day) </li></ul>And some of them do not have to be taught; this student grasps the concept of “opportunity cost” (a TC in economics) with no difficulty
    57. 57. Ways of thinking and practising A major issue in vocational/ professional education Consider what light threshold concepts can throw on them
    58. 58. Ways of thinking and practising A major issue in vocational/ professional education Consider what light threshold concepts can throw on them And some other issues thrown up by treating ideas as “threshold”...
    59. 59. Three possible forms which “threshold experiences” may take.
    60. 60. Three possible forms which “threshold experiences” may take. Note that “threshold experiences” has been adopted by Perkins (2010) but he does not talk about “skills” or “perspectives”
    61. 61. Wash your hands properly Always use a hand basin provided exclusively for washing hands Use comfortably hot water. Rub your hands vigorously to work in the soap Don’t forget the areas in between your fingers and around your wrists Rinse your hands before drying them
    62. 62. Wash your hands properly Always use a hand basin provided exclusively for washing hands Use comfortably hot water. Rub your hands vigorously to work in the soap Don’t forget the areas in between your fingers and around your wrists Rinse your hands before drying them When a group of catering teachers came up with this as a TC, we thought they’d missed the point...
    63. 63. Wash your hands properly Always use a hand basin provided exclusively for washing hands Use comfortably hot water. Rub your hands vigorously to work in the soap Don’t forget the areas in between your fingers and around your wrists Rinse your hands before drying them When a group of catering teachers came up with this as a TC, we thought they’d missed the point... ...but they weren’t just talking about “healthandsafety”; taking hand-washing seriously betokened...
    64. 64. Wash your hands properly Always use a hand basin provided exclusively for washing hands Use comfortably hot water. Rub your hands vigorously to work in the soap Don’t forget the areas in between your fingers and around your wrists Rinse your hands before drying them When a group of catering teachers came up with this as a TC, we thought they’d missed the point... ...but they weren’t just talking about “healthandsafety”; taking hand-washing seriously betokened... ...an ontological shift for their students; they saw themselves as professionals held to a higher standard than the general public.
    65. 65. <ul><li>“ Patriarchy is a threshold concept in women’s studies—a significant, defining concept that transforms students’ understanding of the discipline. This article reviews our design, implementation, and findings of a lesson study crafted to teach women’s studies students the complex idea of patriarchy as a social system.” </li></ul><ul><li>Hassel H, Reddinger A, Van Slooten J (2011) “Surfacing the Structures of Patriarchy: Teaching and Learning Threshold Concepts in Women’s Studies” International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Vol. 5, No. 2 (on-line, retrieved from http://academics.georgiasouthern.edu/ijsotl/v5n2/articles/Hassel_et_al/index.html 14 Nov 2011) </li></ul>
    66. 66. <ul><li>“ Patriarchy is a threshold concept in women’s studies—a significant, defining concept that transforms students’ understanding of the discipline. This article reviews our design, implementation, and findings of a lesson study crafted to teach women’s studies students the complex idea of patriarchy as a social system.” </li></ul><ul><li>Hassel H, Reddinger A, Van Slooten J (2011) “Surfacing the Structures of Patriarchy: Teaching and Learning Threshold Concepts in Women’s Studies” International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Vol. 5, No. 2 (on-line, retrieved from http://academics.georgiasouthern.edu/ijsotl/v5n2/articles/Hassel_et_al/index.html 14 Nov 2011) </li></ul>This example raises the contestable issue of a required belief as a threshold idea (note that this is separate from the question of the validity of the idea)
    67. 67. A student who exceeds expectations A student who meets expectations A student who fails to meet expectations Can explain and provide specific examples of the values of patriarchy as evident in multiple artefacts of popular culture. Can recognize and provide a specific example of the values of patriarchy as evident in one or more artefacts of popular culture. Does not recognize the values of patriarchy as evident in artefacts of popular culture.
    68. 68. These are the assessment rubrics for the course; note the centrality of the concept of patriarchy for differentiation. The more you see of it the better you pass. The concept is a given . A student who exceeds expectations A student who meets expectations A student who fails to meet expectations Can explain and provide specific examples of the values of patriarchy as evident in multiple artefacts of popular culture. Can recognize and provide a specific example of the values of patriarchy as evident in one or more artefacts of popular culture. Does not recognize the values of patriarchy as evident in artefacts of popular culture.
    69. 69. <ul><li>“ [how] my students become “stuck” and hopefully “unstuck” with the threshold concept of Whiteness and its very real implications for their work with urban children and youth. [...] the theorizing and making sense of Whiteness as a structural force that has the great potential to hinder and stall White urban teachers’ work with their students and perpetuate passive racism (Marx, 2006). </li></ul><ul><li>“ College students from a variety of [...] backgrounds come to college campuses having been socialized into the national rhetoric of a “colorblind American Dream,” in which everyone has the same chance to achieve, and racism is restricted to individual acts of bigotry. As such, the threshold concept of racism as a system of advantage based on race is often something students struggle to understand and with which they are initially uncomfortable. Some students remain highly resistant, and struggle with later concepts that build upon this understanding. In this study, I want to measure how and when student thinking about racism shifts over the fifteen weeks of the semester during which they are enrolled in my class. </li></ul>
    70. 70. <ul><li>“ [how] my students become “stuck” and hopefully “unstuck” with the threshold concept of Whiteness and its very real implications for their work with urban children and youth. [...] the theorizing and making sense of Whiteness as a structural force that has the great potential to hinder and stall White urban teachers’ work with their students and perpetuate passive racism (Marx, 2006). </li></ul><ul><li>“ College students from a variety of [...] backgrounds come to college campuses having been socialized into the national rhetoric of a “colorblind American Dream,” in which everyone has the same chance to achieve, and racism is restricted to individual acts of bigotry. As such, the threshold concept of racism as a system of advantage based on race is often something students struggle to understand and with which they are initially uncomfortable. Some students remain highly resistant, and struggle with later concepts that build upon this understanding. In this study, I want to measure how and when student thinking about racism shifts over the fifteen weeks of the semester during which they are enrolled in my class. </li></ul>Same here...
    71. 71. <ul><li>“ Awareness of the concept that 'energy ' exists.   </li></ul><ul><li>Methods that I have used to bring about this awareness include encouraging students to sense each others' energy field, forming Reiki energy balls and working on seeing auras.” </li></ul><ul><li>Cert Ed student 2007 </li></ul>
    72. 72. <ul><li>“ Awareness of the concept that 'energy ' exists.   </li></ul><ul><li>Methods that I have used to bring about this awareness include encouraging students to sense each others' energy field, forming Reiki energy balls and working on seeing auras.” </li></ul><ul><li>Cert Ed student 2007 </li></ul>And this one is fascinating; because whereas one might see the previous two examples as requiring acceptance of an imposed but contestable perspective...
    73. 73. <ul><li>“ Awareness of the concept that 'energy ' exists.   </li></ul><ul><li>Methods that I have used to bring about this awareness include encouraging students to sense each others' energy field, forming Reiki energy balls and working on seeing auras.” </li></ul><ul><li>Cert Ed student 2007 </li></ul>And this one is fascinating; because whereas one might see the previous two examples as requiring acceptance of an imposed but contestable perspective... ...it is possible to see the concept itself as utter rubbish, and yet still see how it is essential as a TC
    74. 74. <ul><li>“ Awareness of the concept that 'energy ' exists.   </li></ul><ul><li>Methods that I have used to bring about this awareness include encouraging students to sense each others' energy field, forming Reiki energy balls and working on seeing auras.” </li></ul><ul><li>Cert Ed student 2007 </li></ul>And this one is fascinating; because whereas one might see the previous two examples as requiring acceptance of an imposed but contestable perspective... ...it is possible to see the concept itself as utter rubbish, and yet still see how it is essential as a TC We might call it a threshold myth.
    75. 75. Plato; Republic Book lll <ul><li>Citizens, we shall say to them in our tale , you are brothers, yet God has framed you differently. Some of you have the power of command, and in the composition of these he has mingled gold, wherefore also they have the greatest honour; others he has made of silver, to be auxiliaries; others again who are to be husbandmen and craftsmen he has composed of brass and iron; and the species will generally be preserved in the children. But as all are of the same original stock, a golden parent will sometimes have a silver son, or a silver parent a golden son. [...] </li></ul><ul><li>Such is the tale; is there any possibility of making our citizens believe in it? </li></ul><ul><li>Not in the present generation, he replied; there is no way of accomplishing this; but their sons may be made to believe in the tale, and their sons' sons, and posterity after them. </li></ul>
    76. 76. Plato; Republic Book lll <ul><li>Citizens, we shall say to them in our tale , you are brothers, yet God has framed you differently. Some of you have the power of command, and in the composition of these he has mingled gold, wherefore also they have the greatest honour; others he has made of silver, to be auxiliaries; others again who are to be husbandmen and craftsmen he has composed of brass and iron; and the species will generally be preserved in the children. But as all are of the same original stock, a golden parent will sometimes have a silver son, or a silver parent a golden son. [...] </li></ul><ul><li>Such is the tale; is there any possibility of making our citizens believe in it? </li></ul><ul><li>Not in the present generation, he replied; there is no way of accomplishing this; but their sons may be made to believe in the tale, and their sons' sons, and posterity after them. </li></ul>... And those have been around for thousands of years
    77. 77. Ways of thinking and practising A major issue in vocational/ professional education Consider what light threshold concepts can throw on them ...and implications for curriculum and pedagogy
    78. 78. This is the part I didn’t really get round to talking about, but in which some of your questions suggested interest, because it does get to the heart of the matter.
    79. 79. <ul><li>“ The idea of threshold concepts carries an important pedagogical message: </li></ul><ul><li>where we can find likely threshold concepts, we would do well to organise learning around them … </li></ul><ul><li>[T]here is a cost, … but one generally worth paying. </li></ul><ul><li>Threshold concepts are likely to be troublesome … </li></ul><ul><li>Their reorganising power brings with it an unfamiliarity that sometimes proves acute and off-putting . </li></ul><ul><li>You can’t re-balance the boat without rocking it.” </li></ul><ul><li>Perkins D (2008) “Beyond Understanding” in R Land, J Meyer and J Smith (eds.) Threshold Concepts within the Disciplines Rotterdam; Sense Publishers, 2008 p. 13 </li></ul>
    80. 80. <ul><li>“ The idea of threshold concepts carries an important pedagogical message: </li></ul><ul><li>where we can find likely threshold concepts, we would do well to organise learning around them … </li></ul><ul><li>[T]here is a cost, … but one generally worth paying. </li></ul><ul><li>Threshold concepts are likely to be troublesome … </li></ul><ul><li>Their reorganising power brings with it an unfamiliarity that sometimes proves acute and off-putting . </li></ul><ul><li>You can’t re-balance the boat without rocking it.” </li></ul><ul><li>Perkins D (2008) “Beyond Understanding” in R Land, J Meyer and J Smith (eds.) Threshold Concepts within the Disciplines Rotterdam; Sense Publishers, 2008 p. 13 </li></ul>David Perkins puts his finger on the issue. In the current “quality” obsessed HE culture, and even more in the future with a consumerist mentality among students, it is going to be more difficult to tolerate (let alone promote), the uncertainty which goes with liminality.
    81. 81. http://www.doceo.co.uk/lincoln/

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