Beginning my next Research Design / Project

It is now time for me to begin formulating my reserach idea for my Module 3 research project at Lancaster University. I so appreciate the feedback I received on my previous projects, and hope to receive some of the same support with this project as well.

 I have been thinking a lot about this, though find that I really organize it and learn about it (and myself) when I begin to write it out (cf. Richardson, Writing: A method of inquiry, 2000), as the notion of writing as a form of inquiry is valuable for me. I learn as I write, and then the feedback along the way from my distributed community is invaluable.

To this end, I am beginning to look at the concept of Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge, as it seems related to the concept of transformational learning (something that I think may be related to autoethnographic inquiry). Lots of relationships here. A lot to process, though I just accessed these two articles and a book section that my faculty tutor suggested I read for some ideas. This is now my reading for the remainder of the week.

Meyer, J. H. F., & Land, R. (2005). Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge (2): Epistemological considerations and a conceptual framewok for teaching and learning. Higher Education, 49(3), 378-388.

Marshall, J. (1999). Living life as inquiry. Systemic Practice and Action Research, 12(2), 155-171.

Perkins, D. (2008). Beyond understanding. In R. Land, J. H. F. Meyer & J. Smith (Eds.), Threshold concepts within the disciplines. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

I will begin tracking and developing my research idea here, and look forward to some feedback along the way.  Any suggestions to help me process this are most appreciated!

6 thoughts on “Beginning my next Research Design / Project

  1. Hi Jeffrey,

    I will play the wee bit dense role here. I googled threshold concepts. Found this site:

    I am not familiar with the concept of threshold concept (perhaps I am about to enter one tho). I also had no idea about troublesome knowledge.

    So these items can occur in any learning, right? Are you thinking to focus on a certain type of learning delivery? Online? ILT? OJT? P2P? Self? Informal?

    I am interested in informal learning and its applications in workplace performance. I am mulling focusing on that realm for my dissertation. Now learning these terms, it seems like there is crossover.

    I will be looking for your references in the library. Thanks!


    1. Christiana-

      Thank you for taking a look at this and finding that interesting article (which I had not yet located).

      I am much more familiar with Mezirow’s work, and have been thinking about linking that with autoethnography (I am interested in this in some online setting, though I have not yet really identified locations for this), and in speaking about this with my tutor (the term for the professor in my program), she suggested I look at Ray Land’s work. I was a bit familiar with it (see my new post today on 12/3), though think I need to read up on it a bit more now, since it has come up more than once by different faculty members.

      While my professional work is in the area of workplace and organizational learning, my research is a little more broad, as I am trying to understand the experience of how this happens and how reflection may help a richer experience to come from it. I think this can then be applied to a workplace, though that is several steps down the road for me right now.

      How do you see this possibly fitting with your work?


      1. I am still in the infancy stage in both my understanding of your work and what I will do with my work. (I suppose I am on a threshold…or looking at one.)

        My current dissertation idea revolves around the informal learning of the workplace…so not what the trainer says or does but what the students say to each other after the training to make the training stick. Or what happens in a mentor, on the job type training relationship. There are certainly thresholds of knowledge to be crossed. And the watercooler-type discussion is a form of reflection.

        Here’s a very concrete level example: in my industry (casino gaming), the casino floors and slot machines are moving from a serial communication to an Ethernet communication. The machines are more technical and are essentially computers now instead of mechanisms. This has resulted in a population shift amongst technician working on slot machines. Some have retired or changed careers. They can’t “get” the computer networking aspects. Some are learning and basically becoming techies instead of mechanics. And the field is attracting a whole new type of worker. So there’s a threshold: understanding how to network a floor. It’s changing their view. Some are crossing over and some aren’t. My research would be on what methods are they using: informal, formal?

        What do you think?

        1. Sounds like some interesting work as well as interesting possibilities.

          I am wondering if you envision studying the people in the profession, say as a group, or if you want to dig into a few of them and really try to understand their experiences and why they think they learned what they did. It may even be interesting to do this, and then relate with your own perspectives . . .

          If you consider that one, it may give you some direction for the sort of emphasis you want to pursue, which may then help frame the research question.

          From the frame of threshold concepts, I am wondering if coming to the realization that the casino games are not merely mechanical boxes, but rather full computers is a threshold concept (as opposed to a realization of perhaps their effects, or how the level of control affects what many see as a game of chance, or even how the perception of learning in what seems a glamorous field may or may not match what they found after they started.

          BTW, I am somewhat new at this, and as I am interested in almost everything, I am struggling to narrow all this down to a specific area!

          1. I am with you on the interest in everything and must narrow! 🙂

            Those are great ideas about the various thresholds. I suspect all apply to different segments of the technician population. Could be lots of research studies!

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