Threshold knowledge

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Threshold knowledge is a term in the study of higher education used to describe core concepts — or threshold concepts — which, once understood, transform perception of a given subject, phenomenon, or experience. [1] Introduced by Jan Meyer and Ray Land, [1] [2] [3] [4] Meyer and Land also discuss the related idea of troublesome knowledge, ideas that appear alien or counter-intuitive. [1] [3] [4] The theory holds that:


... there are certain concepts, or certain learning experiences, which resemble passing through a portal, from which a new perspective opens up, allowing things formerly not perceived to come into view. This permits a new and previously inaccessible way of thinking about something. It represents a transformed way of understanding, or interpreting, or viewing something, without which the learner cannot progress, and results in a reformulation of the learners' frame of meaning. The thresholds approach also emphasises the importance of disciplinary contexts. As a consequence of comprehending a threshold concept there may thus be a transformed internal view of subject matter, subject landscape, or even world view. Typical examples might be 'Personhood' in Philosophy; 'The Testable Hypothesis' in Biology; 'Gravity' in Physics; 'Reactive Power' in Electrical Engineering; 'Depreciation' in Accounting; 'Legal Narrative' in Law; 'Geologic Time' in Geology; 'Uncertainty' in Environmental Science; 'Deconstruction' in Literature; 'Limit' in Mathematics or 'Object-oriented Programming' in Computer Science. [2]

These ideas have been explored by several subsequent researchers in a variety of disciplinary contexts including:

The theory has also been criticised. [13]

See also

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  2. 1 2 Meyer, Jan; Land, Ray; Baillie, Caroline, eds. (2010). Threshold concepts and transformational learning (PDF). Educational futures: rethinking theory and practice. 42. Rotterdam; Boston: Sense Publishers. p. ix. ISBN   9789460912054. OCLC   649651179.
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  4. 1 2 Land, R., Cousin, G., Meyer, J.H.F. and Davies, P. (2005), "Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge (3): implications for course design and evaluation", in C. Rust (ed.), Improving Student Learning − equality and diversity, Proceedings of the 12th Improving Student Learning Conference. Oxford: OCLSD.
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