Threshold Concepts Symposium in 2010

As I am beginning to look at Ray Land’s work in Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge (which I first became aware of last year, though I went in a different direction then) as an element of the research design I am working on, I just became aware of the 3rd Biennial Threshold Concepts Symposium in July of 2010 in Australia. The conference site is here, and while the airfair from the East Coast in the US is astronomical at that time of the year, perhaps others may find this useful.


Now, to try to distinguish this from Jack Mezirow’s Transformative Learning theory. Anybody see anything that tries to show the similarities and differences?

6 thoughts on “Threshold Concepts Symposium in 2010

  1. Regarding \Threshold Concepts,\ you may find the work of J. van Merrienboer of interest. I have found the notion of Threshold Concept can be thought of as an abstraction of part of Merrienboer’s model of complex skills. He addresses models of not only the static knowledge of complex skills including mental models of related knowledge, but also the dynamic aspects (cognitive load). Link: van merrienboer/Merrienboer-Blueprints_for_Complex_Learning_2002.pdf

    Thank you for addressing Threshold Concepts.

    1. Tom-

      Thank you very much for sharing this link with me. I am not familiar with van Merrienboar’s work at all, and really appreciate the suggestion for some related reading. I will take a look at this over the weekend.

      As I am working on this project (which I plan to share its progress here along the way), getting feedback and suggestions from people such as yourself is most appreciated. Such cooperative learning opportunities really help to develop ideas in a richer environment.

      Have you used this research to influence or guide any of your own work?


  2. This is quite an interesting concept. I have found myself unusally drawn to Mezirow’s Transformational Learning theory. At first glance, there seems to be a bit of overlap in the Threshold concept as well. Both deal with this “portal/gateway” to a new understanding/interpretation of a previously understood view of different aspects of the world. Both are powerful, and I would argue, rare occurrences whereby one sees a distinct difference between the past and the present with respect to behavior.
    As I countinue to delve into more theorists, I am amazed at both which particular concepts I connect with as well as the continuos overlap between individuals, concepts, and theories.

    1. Markis-

      I studied Mezirow’s work (and met him on a few occasions) when I did my last graduate degree. It took a little while to really get it, especially as Mezirow really ties it to critical theory and issues of power and positionality within learning. For me, the thing that really did it for me was when I suddenly “got it,” and then I looked around and saw that much of what I initially thought about adult learning was wrong.

      Have you ever experienced this to any extent? What about it resonates with you?


  3. Jeffrey,

    It is interesting you mention the point about getting it. That is actually exactly what I experienced. For instance, this theory of power and how it relates to creating true discourse. You cannot truly create this environment if there is an authority figure within the group. It is without such a figure that individuals can truly challenge one another and their thoughts and beliefs. It seems very basic, but is key in a transformative process.

    Additionally, the rarity resonates. I think while most will have one of these experiences within their lifetime, it is not a frequent occurence even though it is hugely powerful. I think understanding the principles and processes involved, combined with additional reflection, can help to appreciate the new/transformed you a bit more. I too have had such a experience, recently actually, and really appreciated it and the individuals involved so much more after learning about Mezirow. Obviously, I am just beginning to study him, but have found his concepts extremely interesting. Any reccomendations for me?

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