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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. Introduced by Jan Meyer and Ray Land, Meyer and Land also discuss the related idea of troublesome knowledge, ideas that appear alien or counter-intuitive. 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.
These ideas have been explored by several subsequent researchers in a variety of disciplinary contexts including:
- International theory
- Science education
- Healthcare education
- Information literacy
- Writing studies
The theory has also been criticised.
- Meyer J H F and Land R 2003 "Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge: Linkages to Ways of Thinking and Practising" in Improving Student Learning: Ten Years On. C. Rust (Ed), OCSLD, Oxford.
- 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.
- Meyer JHF, Land R (2005). "Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge (2): Epistemological considerations and a conceptual framework for teaching and learning" Higher Education, 49(3), 373-388.
- 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.
- Korosteleva, E. A. (2010) Threshold Concept Through Enactive Learnings: How Effective Are They in the Study of European Politics?, International Studies Perspectives, 11, 37-50.
- Park EJ, Light G (2009). "Identifying Atomic Structure as a Threshold Concept: Student mental models and troublesomeness" International Journal of Science Education, 31(2), 233-258.
- Baillie C, Goodhew P, Skryabina E (2006). "Threshold concepts in engineering education-exploring potential blocks in student understanding" International Journal of Engineering Education, 22(5), 955-962.
- Clouder L (2005). "Caring as a 'threshold concept': Transforming students in higher education into health (care) professionals" Teaching in Higher Education, 10(4), 505-517.
- Bradbeer J (2006). "Threshold concepts within the disciplines". Planet, no. 17, 16-7.
- Lucas, U., Mladenovic, R. (2007), "The potential of threshold concepts: an emerging framework for educational research and practice." London Review of Education, 5(3), 237−248.
- Bulmer, M., O'Brien, M., Price, S. (2007) "Troublesome concepts in statistics: a student perspective on what they are and how to learn them", UniServe Science, Proceedings of the Assessment in Science Teaching and Learning Symposium, University of Sydney, September 28−29, 2007, 9–15.
- "Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education". Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL). 2015-02-09. Retrieved 2017-10-19.
- Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies. University Press of Colorado. 2015. ISBN 978-0-87421-989-0.
- Rowbottom DP (2007). "Demystifying threshold concepts". Journal of Philosophy of Education, 41(2), 263–270. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9752.2007.00554.x