Edev_502 response wk3_2

I always appreciate your excellent summaries of the week’s reading.

When you wrote:

The type of approach taken will also depend on the subject matter, as Meyer & Land (2006) argue that threshold concepts are perhaps more identifiable in the hard sciences compared to the social sciences (p. 16)

I remembered two things: that they had also listed “aquatic confidence” (p. 7); and that you are an excellent swimmer. Given the serious questions regarding the definitional nature of TCs, do you concur with this, and are there other TCs in swimming?

TC is rather like the notion of race, i.e. it doesn’t exist, but as a social construct, it usefully encapsulates the lived experiences of so many in education. Atherton (2010) labels them “a device” rather than having a real existence. Yet, it is treated as a functioning theory. The amount of research into TC is impressive, including websites devoted to it (e.g. Flanagan, 2015). I found three articles about doctorates based on TC that don’t critically address what TCs are (Keefer, 2015; Kiley & Wisker, 2009; Trafford & Leshem, 2009).

TC exist because educators have constructed them to supply a needed definitional gap in teaching and learning. However, blindly accepting them invites the risk of missing true causations in (mis-)learning. What do you think?

Atherton, J. S. (2010). Threshold concepts (the known unknowns). Retrieved July 26, 2015, from http://www.bedspce.org.uk/threshold_6.htm

Flanagan, M. (2015). The Threshold Concept. Retrieved July 26, 2015, from http://www.ee.ucl.ac.uk/~mflanaga/thresholds.html

Keefer, J. M. (2015). Experiencing doctoral liminality as a conceptual threshold and how supervisors can use it. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 52(1), 17–28. http://doi.org/10.1080/14703297.2014.981839

Kiley, M., & Wisker, G. (2009). Threshold concepts in research education and evidence of threshold crossing. Higher Education Research & Development, 28(4), 431–441. http://doi.org/10.1080/07294360903067930

Meyer, J. H. F., & Land, R. (2006). Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge: An introduction. In J. H. F. Meyer & R. Land (Eds.), Overcoming Barriers to Student Understanding: Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge (pp. 3–18). London: Routledge.

Trafford, V., & Leshem, S. (2009). Doctorateness as a threshold concept. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 46(3), 305–316. http://doi.org/10.1080/14703290903069027

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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