Threshold Concepts in Practice Education – Grappling the Liminal Space for Social Sphere Practitioners


Social sciences and humanities undergraduate education, particularly in the areas of early childhood education and applied social studies must engage with professional practice education. There is urgency for the need for practitioners and educationalists to communicate, and for practitioners to be aware of developments in educational theory. The idea of ‘threshold concepts’ is currently widely discussed by educationalists. Threshold concepts are described as areas of knowledge without which the learner cannot progress, and which, when grasped, lead to a transformation in the learner’s perspective and understanding. Threshold concepts have been criticized on conceptual grounds, and there is a lack of clarity as to how to identify them empirically. While they may represent a fruitful approach to the task of engaging humanities students in teaching, it is suggested that further development of the idea is required before it could be usefully applied. However empirical studies in other disciplines suggest that there may be associated benefits to the teaching of the discipline from trying to identify threshold knowledge. Practice education is one such component in undergraduate education where threshold concepts can be located and applied for future social sphere practitioners.



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