Academic Conceptions of Threshold Concepts in Introductory Indigenous Studies

Year: 2016

Author: Page, Susan

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The Threshold Concepts Framework, first developed by Meyer and Land has gained considerable momentum as a mode of inquiry in higher education Learning and Teaching. Threshold Concepts are key ideas, not always explicitly taught, which foster students’ ability to think like discipline experts (Meyer & Land, 2006) and are considered critical to the development of mastery in a discipline. A key element of the Threshold Concepts Framework is the ‘liminal space’, in which learners may encounter troublesome or counter-intuitive knowledge as they develop broad discipline understanding (Perkins, 2008). For example a learner might feel confident about concepts such as gravity, power or precedence, in the classroom but out of the classroom may find the meaning is much less clear. Indigenous Studies holds considerable promise for university educators interested in learning and teaching. To date Indigenous Studies pedagogy has focused on curriculum and content, and the inclusion of Indigenous Knowledges (Grande, 2008). However there is less literature regarding empirical work. The threshold concepts framework offers a discipline focused approach, for exploring how students learn in this environment, which can challenge both students and academics (Asmar & Page, 2009). In order to ‘close the gap’ between outcomes for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, university graduates will need deeper understandings of our nation’s complex colonial legacy than their predecessors (Behrendt, Larkin, Griew & Kelly, 2012). This presentation will report on preliminary findings from a qualitative research study designed to identify threshold concepts in introductory Indigenous Studies; drawing on data collected from students, academics and Indigenous Elders. The presentation will focus on the academic staff findings.ReferencesAsmar, C. & Page, S. (2009). Sources of satisfaction and stress among Indigenous academic teachers: Findings from a national Australian study. Asia Pacific Journal of Education 29:3, 387 - 401. Behrendt, L., Larkin, S., Griew, R., & Kelly, P. (2012). Review of Higher Education Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.Grande, S. (2008). Red pedagogy: The un-methodology. In N.K. Denzin, Y.S. Lincoln, & L.T. Smith (Eds.), Handbook of critical and Indigenous methodologies, (pp. 233-254). New York, Sage.Meyer, J., & Land, R. (2006). Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge: Issues of liminality. In J. Meyer & R. Land (Eds.), Overcoming barriers to student understanding: Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge, (pp. 3–18) London: Routledge.Perkins, D. (2008). Beyond understanding. In R. Land, J. H. F. Meyer, & J. Smith (Eds.), (pp.3-20). Rotterdam: Sense.