1st Edition

Overcoming Barriers to Student Understanding Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge

By Jan Meyer, Ray Land Copyright 2006
    240 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    238 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    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.


    Foreword: Dr Liz Beaty, Director of Learning and Teaching, Higher Education

    Funding Council for England (HEFCE)



    Ray Land and Jan Meyer



    Section I:

    Towards a Theoretical Framework


    Chapter 1

    Jan Meyer and Ray Land

    Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge: an introduction


    Chapter 2

    Jan Meyer and Ray Land

    Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge: issues of liminality


    Chapter 3

    David Perkins

    Constructivism and troublesome knowledge


    Chapter 4

    Anastasia Efklides

    Metacognition, affect and conceptual difficulty


    Chapter 5

    Peter Davies

    Threshold concepts: how can we recognise them?


    Section II:


    Threshold Concepts in Practice


    Chapter 6

    Charlotte Taylor

    Threshold concepts in Biology – do they fit the definition?


    Chapter 7

    Martin Shanahan and

    Jan Meyer

    The troublesome nature of a threshold concept in Economics


    Chapter 8

    Nicola Reimann and

    Ian Jackson

    Threshold concepts in Economics - a case study


    Chapter 9

    Glynis Cousin

    Threshold concepts, troublesome knowledge and emotional capital: an exploration into learning about others


    Chapter 10

    Ursula Lucas and

    Rosina Mladenovic

    Threshold concepts in Introductory Accounting


    Chapter 11

    Maggi Savin-Baden

    Disjunction as a form of troublesome knowledge in problem-based learning


    Chapter 12

    Jenny Booth

    On the mastery of philosophical concepts: Socratic discourse and the unexpected ‘affect’


    Chapter 13

    Simon Bishop

    Using analogy in science teaching as a bridge to students’ understanding of complex issues




    Chapter 14

    Ray Land, Glynis Cousin, Jan Meyer and Peter Davies

    Implications of threshold concepts for curriculum design and evaluation



    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).