Overcoming Barriers to Student Understanding : Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge book cover
1st Edition

Overcoming Barriers to Student Understanding
Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge

ISBN 9780415514187
Published March 21, 2012 by Routledge
240 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

It has long been a matter of concern to teachers in higher education why certain students ‘get stuck’ at particular points in the curriculum whilst others grasp concepts with comparative ease. What accounts for this variation in student performance and, more importantly, how can teachers change their teaching and courses to help students overcome such barriers?

This book examines the difficulties of student learning and offers advice on how to overcome them through course design, assessment practice and teaching methods. It also provides innovative case material from a wide range of institutions and disciplines, including the social sciences, the humanities, the sciences and economics.


Table of Contents

Section 1: Towards a Theoretical Framework  1. Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge: an introduction  2. Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge: issues of liminality  3. Constructivism and troublesome knowledge  4. Metacognition, affect and conceptual difficulty  5. Threshold concepts: how can we recognise them?  Section 2: Threshold Concepts in Practice  6. Threshold concepts in Biology – do they fit the definition?  7. The troublesome nature of a threshold concept in Economics  8. Threshold concepts in Economics - a case study  9. Threshold concepts, troublesome knowledge and emotional capital: an exploration into learning about others 10. Threshold concepts in Introductory Accounting  11. Disjunction as a form of troublesome knowledge in problem-based learning  12. On the mastery of philosophical concepts: Socratic discourse and the unexpected ‘affect’  13. Using analogy in science teaching as a bridge to students’ understanding of complex issues  14. Implications of threshold concepts for curriculum design and evaluation


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Jan Meyer is Professor of Education and foundation Director of the Centre for Learning, Teaching, and Research in Higher Education, University of Durham.

Ray Land is Professor of Higher Education Development and Director, Centre for Higher Education Development, Coventry University. Education in Cyberspace , He has written widely on higher education, and his books include Education and Cyberspace (RoutledgeFalmer, 2004) and Educational Development: Discourse, Identity and Practice (SRHE/McGraw-Hill Open University Press, 2004).