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Threshold concepts in higher ed (STLHE2015)


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Presentation on threshold concepts given at STLHE 2015

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Threshold concepts in higher ed (STLHE2015)

  1. 1. Think of a time in your learning when you have had an ‘a-ha’ moment. • Please share that moment on one of the pieces of chart paper.
  2. 2. Threshold Concepts in Higher Education Andrea Webb & Ashley Shaw University of British Columbia @spiderwebb8 @ashleygshaw STLHE, Vancouver, June 18, 2015
  3. 3. Outline of the workshop • What are threshold concepts? – history & definition – characteristics • What might be potential threshold concepts in my field? • How can we uncover threshold concepts? • Where can I find out more?
  4. 4. – seeing the interconnectedness of different theories working together - Being able to dig deeper into a topic once you’ve had this a-ha, being able to see what’s going on - Putting learning into context, seeing the implications - Looking through a different lens - Seeing ‘outside’ of own discipline, questioning where we are - Impacts on own understandings, practices - Finally seeing an effective method of doing something - Changing understanding, practice, ways of talking about things, identity - Transformational - Doing something slightly differently can have a big impact - Understanding to be able to apply in different location/context, understanding and integrating vs rote learning - Overcoming frustration - Develops a new language - Uncovering assumptions, seeing through others’ lens, changing own perspective, seeing things differently - The space in between A-ha! Moments
  5. 5. Threshold Concepts “The portals to understanding a discipline or field” (Meyer & Land, 2003) • A concept represents a threshold if it leads to a qualitatively different view of the subject matter, often challenging existing knowledge
  6. 6. Characteristics of Threshold Concepts Troublesome Transformative Irreversible Integrative Bounded Reconstitutive Discursive Liminal Examples of the threshold concept must be transformative and involve movement in a liminal space. They are likely to be characterised by many, but not necessarily all, of the other features.
  7. 7. What could be potential threshold concepts in your field or discipline?
  8. 8. 1. Why did you select these particular items as threshold concepts? 2. Was there debate around whether or not something was a threshold concept? 3. Which of the characteristics of threshold concepts can you see in those you identified? 4. Which characteristics would you say are integral to threshold concepts in your area? 5. Are your threshold concepts actual “concepts”, or are they better described as skills, practices, or… 6. How would you go about identifying threshold concepts in your area? 7. How would you use these threshold concepts in your own practice?
  9. 9. Characteristics of threshold concepts in SoTL Four key characteristics were highlighted in Andrea’s study: • Troublesome • Liminal • Reconstitution, Integrative • Transformative • Discursive, Irreversible • Bounded
  10. 10. Threshold concepts in open online courses • Work in progress! • Threshold concepts as more than ‘concepts’: - procedures - literacies - identity • Key characteristics: - transformative - troublesome - integrative - irreversible - liminal
  11. 11. What are the implications of threshold concepts for higher education? Flexible methodological approaches •Developing disciplinary and interdisciplinary discussions of concepts Strategic Approaches to Teaching and Learning •Using a TC framework helps to build increased capacity in challenging areas
  12. 12. Questions & Discussion
  13. 13. References and Resources • Barradell, S. (2013). The identification of threshold concepts: a review of theoretical complexities and methodological challenges. High Education, 65(), 265–276. doi 10.1007/s10734-012-9542-3 • Cousin, G. (2006). An introduction to threshold concepts. Planet, 17, 4-5. • Davies, P. & Mangan, J. (2005 August) Recognising threshold concepts: An exploration of different approaches. Paper presented at the European Association in Learning and Instruction (EARLI) Conference, Nicosia, Cyprus. • Entwistle, N. (2008). Threshold concepts and transformative ways of thinking within research into higher education. In R. Land, J.H.F. Meyer, & J. Smith (Eds.), Threshold concepts within the disciplines (pp. 21–35). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers • M. Flanagan. Threshold Concepts: Undergraduate Teaching, Postgraduate Training and Professional Development. A short introduction and bibliography. Available online • Holloway, M., Alpay, E., & Bull, A. (2009). A quantitative approach to identifying threshold concepts in engineering education. Retrieved on April 1, 2013 from • Land, R. (2012, June). A closer look at liminality: Incorrigibles and teaching capital. Paper presented at NAIRTL Conference, Trinity College Dublin. Retrieved on July 10, 2013 from • Meyer, J.H.F. & Land, R. (2003). Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge: linkages to ways of thinking and practising. In Rust, C. (ed.), Improving Student Learning - Theory and Practice Ten Years On. Oxford: Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development, 412-424.