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Teaching and learning tricky topics
Teaching and learning tricky topics

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1.3 Reflect on your personal experience of threshold concepts

Apart from the actual threshold concepts you found in Activity 1, think about other concepts that you have encountered in either your teaching practice (things that have been difficult to get across to your students) or your personal learning (the things that you have found difficult to understand).

Do any of these concepts match the criteria for being a threshold concept?

Activity 2 Map characteristics onto your threshold concepts

Timing: Allow approximately 20 minutes

List the concepts you have identified alongside whichever defining characteristic(s) you think applies to them. Use the five criteria used to identify a threshold concept identified in the ‘Innovating Pedagogy report’ (see further reading at the end of the week). The criteria are:

  • Transformative – once understood, a threshold concept may potentially cause a significant shift in the perception of a subject (or part thereof); sometimes it may even transform one’s personal identity.
  • Irreversible – it is unlikely that a threshold concept is forgotten or unlearned once acquired due to transformation.
  • Integrative – a threshold concept is able to expose ‘the previously hidden interrelatedness of something’.
  • Bounded – a threshold concept can have borders with other threshold concepts which help to define disciplinary areas.
  • Troublesome – threshold concepts may be counter-intuitive (moving against and beyond a common-sense understanding towards an expert understanding)

Please note that if you save your responses here, they will be available later in Activity 4.

Table 3 Difficult concepts
Your subject:
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Concepts you have identified as difficultThreshold concept criteria
1
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2
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3
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4
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Words: 0
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