Transforming perspectives – technology to support the teaching and learning of threshold concepts

Team: Dr Patrick Carmichael, Dr Keith Johnstone, Professor Peter Robinson

This project sought to establish an interdisciplinary network in order to develop strategies for technology-enhanced teaching and learning of ‘threshold concepts’ in higher education. Effective teaching of these transformative, irreversible, integrative and often ‘troublesome’ concepts demands that teachers provide students with flexible learning activities designed to support learning as a form of conceptual change. They represent a challenge to both traditional and technology-enhanced teaching and learning environments and this promising field has not been adequately investigated to date. Effective investigation of threshold concepts in technology-enhanced learning can only be achieved through interdisciplinary research involving Computer Science, Education, Cognitive Science and other disciplines.

Ultimate beneficiaries of this proposal will be teachers and learners across subject areas in Higher Education and potentially across other educational settings and phases including schools and workplace learning. This project is primarily concerned with research and development of approaches and solutions which address the personalisation of learning and the development of flexibility in provision. Threshold concepts are associated with conceptual change models of learning, and as such may offer the basis for learner-centred activities that promote reflection, self-regulation and independence. Better understanding of how to support learners developed from interdisciplinary perspectives will inform inclusion issues including widening participation in Higher Education and better alignment of university and work-based learning.

Publications

Carmichael, P. (2010) Threshold concepts, disciplinary differences and cross-disciplinary discourse Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: Gulf Perspectives 7(2) 53-72

Carmichael, P. (2011) Tribes, Territories and Threshold Concepts: Educational materialisms at work in higher education. in Educational Philosophy and Theory (early view). DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-5812.2010.00743.x

Irvine, N. and Carmichael, P. (2009) Threshold concepts: a point of focus for practitioner research Active Learning in Higher Education 10(2) 103–119.

Burchmore, H., Irvine, N. and Carmichael, P. (2008) Threshold concepts: a review of related literature.

Irvine, N. and Carmichael, P. (2007) Initiating and Supporting Practitioner Research in Higher Education. Paper presented at BERA Conference, August 2007, London.

Carmichael, P. (2007) Transforming Perspectives: technology to support the teaching and learning of threshold concepts: – Plain English Summary. RES-139-25-0361. Swindon: ESRC

Carmichael, P. (2007) Transforming Perspectives: technology to support the teaching and learning of threshold concepts: Full Research Report ESRC End of Award Report, RES-139-25-0361. Swindon: ESRC

Carmichael, P. (2007) Transforming Perspectives: technology to support the teaching and learning of threshold concepts: Non-Technical Summary (Research summary) ESRC End of Award Report, RES-139-25-0361. Swindon: ESRC

Carmichael, P., Johnstone, K., Tracy, F. and Burchmore, H. (2007) ‘Threshold Concepts: an Emerging Interdisciplinary Research Agenda in Higher Education Research’ in: D. Good, S. Greenwald, R. Cox, and M. Goldman (eds.) University Collaboration for Innovation: Lessons from the Cambridge-MIT Institute (Rotterdam: Sense Publishers)

Taylor, K, Carmichael, P., and Irvine, N. (2006) Developing an Adaptive Tutoring Environment to Support the Teaching and Learning of Threshold Concepts. Paper presented at the BCS Special-interest Group on Artifical Intelligence Workshop: AI and Education, Peterhouse, Cambridge, 11 December 2006.

Links

Information about the project at the ESRC website

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