Shifting relations with the more-than-human: Six threshold concepts for transformative sustainability learning – An Article Summary

children-441895_1280After some time traveling for work, having done a lot of reading along the way, I am finally pausing enough to share some of what I learned via a #5Papers strategy:

1/ I read Barrett, Harmin, Maracle, Patterson, Thomson, Flowers, & Bors (2016)…

2/ …Shifting relations with the more-than-human: six threshold concepts for transformative sustainability learning

3/ http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2015.1121378 via #5Papers Continue reading “Shifting relations with the more-than-human: Six threshold concepts for transformative sustainability learning – An Article Summary”

EduWander: An Approach to #rhizo15

walkingI have been thinking about my post yesterday, What is my #rhizo15 Learning Subjective?, especially about my Learning Subjective for #rhizo15 as:

The joy is in the journey, wherever it may lead.

and want to clarify this a bit.

Unlike the need for an ongoing, frequent set of (learning) rituals, which to Terry’s point in his well-considered post Creating Ritual Space in #Rhizo15: Why and How are frequently common for a sense of “us” in a learning community, I find that having a community out there, available via Twitter, Facebook, the Google Community, and a handful of other technologies, is enough for me this time around.

Thinking also of Barry’s Rhizomatic incitations, I notice I am not alone in my wondering and wandering. Perhaps there is a trend here?

Granted, I am a somewhat mature learner. I am Continue reading “EduWander: An Approach to #rhizo15”

What is my #rhizo15 Learning Subjective?

Not all those who wander are lostWhile I recently posted about Why I am engaging in #rhizo15 and  Learning Liminality I have still somehow avoided discussing my Learning Subjectives (as learning objectives are not readily possible when we do not know where we are going).

Perhaps this is because I so often avoid personal learning objectives.

I frequently retreat into researcher mode. Specifically as a qualitative researcher, where I always want to ask questions such as, “Why?, “Tell me what you mean by that?,” and “How did you…?” I often avoid making declarative comments, statements, or proclamations as, more often than not, I am wrong in some way. I hate being wrong, and find it easier to commit to the extent I can speak to, while avoiding presenting myself or my ideas narrowly that I somehow exclude other possibilities.

This all begs the question, what are my learning subjectives for #rhizo15?

Wow, I really do not know.

It is easy to say, “To build my network,” but that somehow seems to be a bit selfish, as if Continue reading “What is my #rhizo15 Learning Subjective?”

Discussing the A-Ha! in CPsquare

Our conversation has started in the CPsquare community, where I am sharing my current doctoral studies and approaching thesis. One of the community facilitators mentioned the a-ha moment, and this reminded me how increasingly central this is to my work. Don’t you wish we could bottle and share it?

I came to my current academic program with an interest in exploring transformative learning experiences in distance learning, and while I have studied these experiences from a number of perspectives, including from the perspective of doctoral learners, it is this a-ha experience, sometimes called a conceptual threshold, threshold concept, or light bulb moment, that most interests me.

  • What factors lead some people to have this a-ha, and not others?
  • Is there any content or ideas that tend to have this effect on people?
  • What does this experience feel like?
  • What support helps sustain people through this?
  • What ethical issues arise, especially when this experience may be encouraged by a faculty member or researcher?

These are some of those questions that inspire me, as they all lead to the pinnacle, IMHO, of the central questions in education — What did you learn and what will you do with it?

Academic “Stuckness”

I recently started to read a most interesting blog, The Thesis Wisperer. While this blog is about doing a doctoral thesis, and my research is about researchers and the research process, it seems a natural fit.

This became even more apparent when I read their newest post, Why you might be ‘stuck.’ This post is about threshold concepts, a topic I have been studying especially intensely recently, that comes from the work of Meyer and Land. Not much to really add to this right now, as I am saving all that for my own research findings. On an even larger note, as I am narrowing down my doctoral research questions, let’s just leave stuckness alone, at least for the time being!

Let’s just say that I envision this being a most important framework for my thesis proposal, whose idea is due to be submitted for review within 2 weeks at Lancaster University. Back to my research . . .

Identity Development in Blogging — The Whys and Hows?

As I am starting to get personal, public, and formal academic feedback about my (working and developing) research design (both here on my blog, directly to me, and in my university’s Virtual Learning Environment), I am slowly narrowing it down.

I am thinking about how I work all various elements together (transformative learning, adult education, critical theory, teaching and learning, virtual identity, etc.), and it occurred to me that many of the people I speak with on Twitter and whose blogs I read are all sharing a similar experience to me — we are (or recently were) doctoral (or even graduate) students. I find myself interested in reading those blogs about people who chronicle their research interests, learning, struggles, and journies through graduate and doctoral work.

  • Why do this via a blog?
  • What is learned in the process?
  • How does it feel to be public with your thinking?
  • How do you learn about yourself?
  • Where does this fit with your identity development?
  • What troublesome knowledge do you learn along the way?

I wonder what it would be like to identify and interview some of these folks to inquire what they learned about themselves through blogging their educational experiences, why they did it, and how it influenced their research?

I wonder if there is a research problem and question in here?

Learnings & Questions about Threshold Concepts

OK, I have now read everything I can find by Meyer and Land on Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge (with the exception of one text which I am trying to get via inter-library loan, as it is pricey even for my endless book buying binge–Overcoming Barriers to Student Understanding: Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge).

There are two other things (loosely) I learned about this framework:

  • While learners struggle with this sort of conceptual knowledge, once they “get” it, their transformative, irreversible, and integrative experience will change their conceptual framework, while it is bounded within a disciplinary terrain and there is a discursive nature that is demonstrated when we use a different language to describe the concept or its results (Land, R., Meyer, J. H. F., & Smith, J. (2008). Editors’ Preface. In R. Land, J. H. F. Meyer & J. Smith (Eds.), Threshold concepts within the disciplines. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.
  • This framework is intended to assist “teachers in identifying appropriate ways of modifying or redesigning curricula to enable their students to negotiate such epistemological transitions, and ontological transformations, in a more satisfying fashion for all concerned” when these concepts are located within “disciplinary knowledge” (Meyer & Land, 2005, p. 386).
  • This framework is intended for higher education, though the authors want to see it spread to other sectors of education (Land, Meyer, & Smith, 2008).

With this, I now have a few open questions to explore as next steps:

  • How do disciplinary Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge fit if one has a postmodern or post-structural worldview?
  • This issue arose from a comment made in David Perkins’ article when he spoke about John Dewey and Neil Postman’s work (Perkins, D. (2008). Beyond understanding. In R. Land, J. H. F. Meyer & J. Smith (Eds.), Threshold concepts within the disciplines. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers).
  • Whose knowledge can be determined to be troublesome to whom?
  • This issue arose from a comment about a Foucauldian perspective and how power within a curriculum is wielded, used, and understood (Meyer & Land, 2003).
  • How is this framework something distinctive from Jack Mezirow’s work in Transformative Learning
  • The only reference to Mezirow’s work on perspective transformation that I located was in the original 2003 article (Meyer & Land). I found this a bit surprising, in that the transformative learning literature (based on Mezirow, Brookfield, Cranton, Taylor, et al.) is increasing (with courses on it within adult education, a conference, dedicated journal, and entire programs of study built upon it), and there seem to be many similarities with enough differences tocomplement one another.

OK, now to use this (as it does interest me) as the conceptual framework for my research design, which I now want to begin to develop. Has anybody used this framework in any research?