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Signature Pedagogy & Threshold Concepts: Overview

About this guide

General & Discipline-Specific 
This guide lists general as well as discipline-specific literature relating to Signature Pedagogy and Threshold Concepts.  The articles, book chapters, conference papers, etc. are assigned subject headings that best describe their contents. The materials were retrieved from searches conducted in the following resources: 

  1. Specialized databases (e.g. ERIC and SSRN)
  2. General databases (e.g. Project Muse)
  3. Publishers' sites (e.g.Taylor & Francis and Wiley)
  4. Google Scholar
  5. Selected bibliographies in particular Jan Lüdert 's Select Annotated bibliography on Signature Pedagogy & Threshold Concepts, University of British Columbia. 

View Full Texts
You can view the full text of selected documents by clicking on the titles (in bold & hyperlinked). If the source title is available only in hard copy, you will be directed to the catalogue record that provides details such as location and call number of the required journal, book, conference proceedings, etc.

Signature Pedagogy (General)

• Lock, J., Kim, B., Koh, K., & Wilcox, G. (2018). Navigating the Tensions of Innovative Assessment and Pedagogy in Higher Education. The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 9 (1). Retrieved from https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/cjsotl_rcacea/vol9/iss1/ 8.
"Innovative practice in a classroom adds challenges and tensions to programs and institutional structures in higher education. With the recent emphasis on curricula reform, there is a great focus on assessment and pedagogical practices to support student learning. To illustrate the tensions arising from these efforts, we present four pedagogical and assessment innovation approaches using both Shulman's (2005) Signature Pedagogies and Tatar's (2007) Design Tensions frameworks. The four approaches include problem-based learning, game-based learning, case-based learning, and technology-enhanced learning.

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A narrative for each approach examines and addresses tensions using Shulman's (2005) surface, deep and implicit structures. We argue that there is an interconnected complexity and conflicting visions among the micro- (e.g., classroom or practicum), meso- (e.g., program), and macro- (e.g., institution) levels. We acknowledge that dynamic tensions continually exist and needs to be thoughtfully navigated in support of innovative assessment and pedagogies in higher education."

• Eaton, S. E., Brown, B., Schroeder, M., Lock, J. & Jacobsen, M (2017). Signature pedagogies for e-learning in higher education and beyond. Calgary: University of Calgary.
"This report explores the notion of signature pedagogies within the field of e-learning for higher education. We build on previous work that examined signature pedagogies in education, linking the concepts of signature pedagogies, the profession of education and e-learning as a means to help educators develop their practice and understanding of the profession."
This report is archived in the University of Calgary digital repository.

• Munge, B., Thomas, G., & Heck, D. (2018). Outdoor Fieldwork in Higher Education: Learning From Multidisciplinary Experience. Journal of Experiential Education, 41(1), 39–53. https://doi.org/10.1177/1053825917742165.
"Background: Many disciplines use outdoor fieldwork (OFW) as an experiential learning method in higher education. Although there has been an increase in research into the pedagogical approaches of OFW, the use of OFW is contested. Purpose: The purpose of the study was to synthesize the OFW literature across a range of disciplines to identify common strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) and outline implications for how OFW is used as an experiential learning pedagogy in higher education.

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Methodology/Approach: A descriptive literature review was undertaken to examine each aspect of the SWOT at the micro, meso, and macro levels, drawing from disciplines using OFW including biology, outdoor and environmental education, archaeology, and the associated geosciences. Findings/Conclusions: Strengths of OFW include engagement, outreach, and professional competencies; weaknesses exist in the areas of equity, logistics, and standards. Opportunities include improving pedagogical practices, diversity, and collaboration, while threats to OFW were costs, funding, outdated practices, and governance. Implications: Academics from a range of disciplines using OFW have similar experiences; therefore, exploring ways to collaborate or learn from each other will further develop OFW as an experiential learning strategy in higher education."

• Rikke Toft Nørgård, Claus Toft-Nielsen & Nicola Whitton (2017) Playful learning in higher education: developing a signature pedagogy, International Journal of Play, 6:3, 272-282, DOI: 10.1080/21594937.2017.1382997.
"Increased focus on quantifiable performance and assessment in higher education is creating a learning culture characterised by fear of failing, avoidance of risk, and extrinsic goal-oriented behaviours. In this article, we explore possibilities of a more playful approach to teaching and learning in higher education through the metaphor of the ‘magic circle’. This approach stimulates intrinsic motivation and educational drive, creates safe spaces for academic experimentation and

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explorationand promotes reflective risk-taking, ideation, and participation in education. We present a model of playful learning, drawing on notions of signature pedagogies, field literature, and two qualitative studies on learner conceptions of enjoyment and reasons for disengagement. We highlight the potential of this approach to invite a different mind-set and environment, providing a formative space in which failure is not only encouraged, but a necessary part of the learning paradigm."

• Helen Walkington, Jennifer Hill & Pauline E. Kneale (2017) Reciprocal elucidation: a student-led pedagogy in multidisciplinary undergraduate research conferences, Higher Education Research & Development, 36:2, 416-429, DOI: 10.1080/07294360.2016.1208155.
"There is no previous study of the benefits of attending a national multidisciplinary conference dedicated to undergraduate researchers, despite the growing number of such conferences internationally. This paper addresses the gap in knowledge of the learning gains from these conferences, and reveals a student driven learning process, a multidisciplinary signature pedagogy. It presents the results of 90 in-depth interviews with student conference participants conducted over three consecutive years of a multidisciplinary National Conference

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of Undergraduate Research (2012–2014). This paper uniquely captures the student voice on their perceived learning gains from this experience. The results reveal that some students co-create a pedagogy of Foucauldian reciprocal elucidation,through a sense of ‘unfinishedness’, allowing them to reflect on their own learning in the light of divergent perspectives, questions and frames of reference. Bidirectional exchange of ideas and insights enabled students to ask and answer questions that transformed each other’s thinking, allowing them to arrive at understandings they could not have achieved by themselves. The opportunity to present research in an authentic setting beyond disciplinary and institutional contexts developed students’ skills and confidence, giving additional value over and above the recognised benefits of engaging in research. The undergraduate research conference is framed as a threshold experience for the development of self-authorship. Significant implications for practice include supporting constructive dialogues between students and the creation of authentic and professional multidisciplinary contexts for sharing research."

• Abbas, Andrea; Abbas, Joan; Brayman, Kira; Brennan, John; Gantogtokh, Orkhon (2016), Teaching Excellence in the Disciplines.  Heslington, York: Higher Education Academy.
This report was prepared, and the project it was based on carried out, by a research team led from LSE Enterprise at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
"Higher education within the UK has expanded significantly over recent decades and is now characterised by considerable diversity in its institutional forms, in the content of its courses, and in the backgrounds, aspirations and destinations of its students. An extensive literature has identified HE pedagogies, including teaching practices and approaches, that are unique to disciplines and has proposed that these are linked to the specific knowledge structures of disciplines, the cultures of disciplines, the thought processes underpinning them, and/or the shared practices and identities of those who teach and study them. This study was structured through the following five research questions:

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(1) What is the range and balance of pedagogic approaches employed by teaching staff within their discipline?
(2) What is considered to reflect excellent teaching in the disciplines?
(3) How does this vary across disciplines and HE providers?
(4) Are there distinctive disciplinary or "signature" pedagogies?
(5) Which pedagogic approaches are considered the most effective in terms of their impact on producing suitable graduates of different disciplines?

The authors investigated what pedagogic approaches were used across a range of disciplines, and why they were seen as effective, or in need of improvement, by those researching learning and teaching in the fields, and by deans. The first phase of the report consists of a literature analysis focused on analysing discipline-based literature on HE teaching and learning in 36 disciplines. The second section presents messages from the analysis of the literature. In section three, there is a comparative review of the deans' comments across four disciplinary clusters in relation to the project's five research questions. Section four summarizes "the things we know" and "the things we do not know" about "teaching excellence in the disciplines" across UK HE. The report concludes with recommendations of actions that should be taken to ensure and enhance the provision of the multi-faceted quality required of today's higher education."

• Jake Wright (2019) The truth, but not yet: avoiding naïve skepticism via explicit communication of metadisciplinary aims,Teaching in Higher Education, 24:3, 361-377, DOI: 10.1080/13562517.2018.1544552.
"Introductory students regularly endorse naïve skepticism – unsupported or uncritical doubt about the existence and universality of truth – for a variety of reasons. Though some of the reasons for students’ skepticism can be traced back to the student – for example, a desire to avoid engaging with controversial material or a desire to avoid offense – naïve skepticism is also the result of how introductory courses are taught, deemphasizing truth to promote students’ abilities to develop basic disciplinary skills.

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While this strategy has a number of pedagogical benefits, it prevents students in early stages of intellectual development from understanding truth as a threshold concept. I argue that we can make progress against naïve skepticism by clearly discussing how metadisciplinary aims differ at the disciplinary and course levels in a way that is meaningful, reinforced, and accessible."

• Elizabeth Manekin & Elizabeth Williams (2015) Teaching Students to Teach: A Case Study from the Yale University Art Gallery, Journal of Museum Education, 40:3, 278-287, DOI: 10.1179/1059865015Z.000000000104.
The way the Yale University Art Gallery engages students and the adult public has shifted profoundly over time, a change reflected in the evolution of the museum's signature Gallery Guide program. Founded in 1998 as an organic, experimental way to better engage Yale students to give lecture-based tours, it is now a structured, well-articulated model for training students to teach the adult public from original works of art. This article presents a detailed exploration of the program's evolution, its core training principles and learning outcomes; it also raises questions for

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the future as the museum considers new ways of engaging students and expanded adult audiences, a conversation with implications for all types of museums. Ultimately, this case study illustrates that while training undergraduates to teach the adult public takes a great deal of staff time and effort, it yields stronger, more dynamic pedagogy and makes the Yale University Art Gallery a more vibrant teaching institution.

• Jacobsen, Michele; McDermott, Mairi; Brown, Barbara; Eaton, Sarah Elaine; and Simmons, Marlon, Graduate students' research-based learning experiences in an online Master of Education program, Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 15(4), 2018. Available at: https://ro.uow.edu.au/jutlp/vol15/iss4/4.
"The purpose of this research was to better understand graduate students' learning experiences in a researchintensive, online Master of Education (MEd) program. In alignment with the program goal for graduate scholars of the profession, this course-based program adopted an inquiry-based signature pedagogy grounded in the innovative practice of research-based learning. As part of this study, we explored broader program structures, including the cohort-based model, course sequencing and research ethics approval processes, which situate the research-based learning experiences. Several research questions framed our investigation into the experiences of online students who are engaged in a research-active MEd program. Analysis of survey and focus group information contributes to this mixed-methods case study and provides insights into implications for research-based learning in online course-based graduate programs."

• Carey, Thomas; Davis, Alan; Ferreras, Salvador; Porter, David (2015) Using Open Educational Practices to Support Institutional Strategic Excellence in Teaching, Learning & Scholarship Open Praxis, 7:2 Apr-Jun, 161-171. 
"This paper explores the integration of Open Educational Practices (OEP) into an institutional strategy to develop distinctive excellence in teaching, learning and scholarship. The institution in the case study is a public polytechnic university serving a metropolitan area in Canada. If emerging Open Educational Practices are to flourish at our university, support for OEP must integrate with and contribute to our broader efforts to clarify and enhance our strategic position. We have identified three focal points where our institution can focus attention in order to ensure that our use of emerging Open Educational Practices will best align with, contribute to, and benefit from our institutional strategy for distinctive excellence in teaching and learning:

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• Opening up the pedagogy underlying exemplary OER, to enable a deeper faculty engagement in integrating and mobilizing diverse sources of knowledge in teaching;
• Opening up that process by which individual faculty improve teaching and learning, as a model for our students’ own engagements with knowledge;
• Opening up our collective faculty work in innovation networks, as a model for students and as a signature institutional strength and outcome.

We summarize the rationale and planned next steps for each of these focal points, which are intended to cumulatively build on each other as a value chain to support the development of distinctive graduate capabilities as signature outcomes of our teaching and learning."

• Hay, David; Weller, Saranne; Ashton, Kim (2015) Researcher-Led Teaching: Embodiment of Academic Practice. Higher Education Review, v48 n1 p25-39 Aut.  (Call no.LB2300 HER)
"This paper explores the embodied practices of leading researchers (and/or leading scholars/practitioners), suggesting that distinctive "researcher-led teaching" depends on educators who are willing and able to be their research in the teaching setting. We advocate an approach to the development of higher education pedagogy which makes lead-researchers the objects of inquiry and we summarise case-study analyses (in neuroscience and humanities) where the knowledge-making "signatures" of academic leaders are used to exhibit the otherwise hidden identities of research. We distinguish between learning ready-made knowledge and the process of knowledge in the making and point towards the importance of inquiry in the flesh. We develop a view of higher education teaching that depends upon academic status a priori, but we argue that this stance is inclusive because it has the propensity to locate students as participants in academic culture."

• Roger Dalrymple, Chris Kemp & Patrick Smith (2014) Characterising work-based learning as a triadic learning endeavour, Journal of Further and Higher Education, 38:1, 75-89, DOI: 10.1080/0309877X.2012.699516.
"With work-based learning (WBL) forming an increasingly prevalent dimension of modern higher education practice, conceptual models of the pedagogies underpinning WBL are increasingly emerging. There is broadening recognition of the need to capture and represent the values and presuppositions underlying WBL in order to support facilitators and learners engaged in WBL for the first time. Accordingly, the current study proposes a new characterisation of WB higher education which can helpfully inform the design and delivery of WBL curricula, schemes of work and teaching and learning strategies. 

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Informed by the authors' extensive facilitation of WBL programmes for such diverse fields of professional practice as dance teaching, event management, security and the military, the model represents WBL as a triadic learning endeavour in which student, work-based facilitator and university tutor are engaged in a mode of learning which is best conceived as ‘academy-aligned' rather than ‘academy-based', and in which the signature pedagogic principle is one of ‘responsive facilitation'. The application of the model in a number of programmes is demonstrated and some recommendations for WB practice outlined."

Threshold Concept (General)

• Håkan Salwén (2019) Threshold concepts, obstacles or scientific dead ends?, Teaching in Higher Education, DOI: 10.1080/13562517.2019.1632828.
Educational researchers have concluded that there are threshold concepts in a large number of disciplines. Yet, these researchers have not paid enough attention to the objection to the theory. It is beset with severe definitional and empirical problems. I will portray definitions of ‘threshold concepts’ provided by Land and Meyer, the founding fathers of the threshold concept theory. I argue, in the first place, that the definitions fail and, in the second place, that even if the definitional problems were solved and we were able to identify some threshold concepts, their scientific importance would be limited if not nil.

• Ruth Matheson (2019) In pursuit of teaching excellence: outward and visible signs of inward and invisible grace, Teaching in Higher Education, DOI: 10.1080/13562517.2019.1604508.
The debate around what constitutes teaching excellence and how to measure it remains a contentious issue in higher education, with little consensus reached. Despite this, measures of teaching excellence influence university ranking league tables throughout the world. This paper explores the thinking and practice of five academics, recognised through student nominations as exhibiting teaching that students considered excellent and which promoted their learning. Through adopting the unusual methodology of ‘rambling’, talking whilst walking, the values, attributes and behaviours of these academics were captured.

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Themes emerged, which identified markers of teaching excellence and challenged current student satisfaction outcomes as a poor proxy for measuring teaching excellence. By examining the values, attributes and behaviours (practice) of these academics, we were able to identify guidance for; curriculum design that inspires, assessment that allows risk-taking, and values that need to either be challenged by/or embedded into academic development.

• Gwyneth Hughes (2019) Developing student research capability for a ‘post-truth’ world: three challenges for integrating research across taught programmes, Teaching in Higher Education, 24:3, 394-411, DOI: 10.1080/13562517.2018.1541173.
Research-based learning in taught courses develops the skills needed to judge knowledge sources and think critically in a post-truth world. In viewing research skills as threshold concepts, the paper argues that transforming a student cannot be a one-off event. Research capacity must build over a programme and this requires coherent research skill development and assessment that is progressive (ipsative). A study of five programmes each with a different design of research

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‘throughline’ showed that such integrated research-based learning generates three challenges. Firstly, conceptualising the research skills and progression is not easy. Secondly, the accumulation and enrichment of research skills is not readily visible to students. Finally, providing a clear support system across the programme is not straightforward. The paper concludes that these challenges need to be addressed if the potential of research-based education to enable future citizens to interrogate populist claims and reject misinformation is to be realised.

• Brianne L. Reck & Kathryn M. Julie A. Timmermans & Jan H. F. Meyer (2017)  A framework for working with university teachers to create and embed ‘Integrated Threshold Concept Knowledge’ (ITCK) in their practice, International Journal for Academic Development, DOI: 10.1080/1360144X.2017.1388241
In this paper, we propose a framework to help educational developers navigate the now vast literature on threshold concepts, so that they may effectively support university teachers in their work to embed threshold concept knowledge into courses and programs. This research- and practice-informed framework consists of seven principles and seven clusters of activities. It includes an ‘actionable literature review’ – a distillation and synthesis of threshold concept related knowledge that can be acted upon and adapted in a variety of settings by educational developers and teachers."

• Procter C., Harvey V. (2018) Realising the Threshold of Employability in Higher Education. In: Carter J., O'Grady M., Rosen C. (eds) Higher Education Computer Science (pp. 203-220). Springer, Cham. DOI /10.1007/978-3-319-98590-9_14.
A substantial body of work has tested and developed ‘Threshold Concepts’. A Threshold Concept may be considered “akin to a portal, opening up a new and previously inaccessible way of thinking about something … it represents a transformed way of understanding, or interpreting, or viewing … without which the learner cannot progress” (Meyer and Land in Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge 1—Linkages to ways of thinking and practising in improving student learning—Ten years on. OCSLD, Oxford, 2003). Little research however exists on the relevance of the concept to employability. 

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mployability is fundamental to Higher Education, yet its role in the curriculum is unclear and contested. Our practice suggests that developing knowledge about employability is a threshold which, when reached, empowers and gives confidence to the student. To achieve this means embedding this knowledge in the curriculum. The paper discusses the delivery of a large module with this aim, explaining how the design of assessment was fundamental in guiding students to a transformed way of understanding employability.

• Dawes, L. (2019). Through Faculty's Eyes: Teaching Threshold Concepts and the Framework. portal: Libraries and the Academy 19(1), 127-153. Johns Hopkins University Press. Retrieved June 25, 2019, from Project MUSE database.
This study investigates faculty perceptions of teaching information literacy. Using 24 semi-structured interviews, a phenomenographic approach identified four qualitative ways in which faculty experienced teaching information literacy (IL). This paper analyzes the challenging information literacy concepts that faculty identify — known to many librarians as threshold concepts — and their relationship to the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) "

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Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education." The study highlights the transdisciplinary nature of IL instruction and indicates that, although unaware of the ACRL Framework, faculty already teach at least three concepts from that document. This finding suggests new opportunities for collaborations between librarians and faculty.

• Julie A. Timmermans, Carmen Bruni, Rob Gorbet, Barbara Moffatt, Gordon Stubley, Diane Williams & Trevor Holmes (2018) The flourishing of care in a multidisciplinary Faculty Learning Community, International Journal for Academic Development, 23:4, 367-373, DOI: 10.1080/1360144X.2018.1521335.
In a multidisciplinary Faculty Learning Community focussed on exploring threshold concepts and bottlenecks in learning, care emerged as an unanticipated dimension to our work, transforming the ways we view teaching, learning, our disciplines, and educational development. In this piece, we reflect on the types of care that emerged and consider implications for educational development.

Miller‐Young, J. and Boman, J. (2017), Uncovering Ways of Thinking, Practicing, and Being through Decoding across Disciplines. Teaching and Learning, 2017: 19-35. doi:10.1002/tl.20235
This chapter presents the bottlenecks identified by seven faculty members from diverse disciplines and an inductive content analysis of their Decoding interviews. Representative quotations illustrate themes in the interviews and we consider the implications for both faculty development and pedagogical research.

• Ann Harlow, Bronwen Cowie, David McKie & Mira Peter (2017) Threshold concept theory as an enabling constraint: a facilitated practitioner action research study, Educational Action Research, 25:3, 438-452, DOI: 10.1080/09650792.2016.1165130.
"International interest is growing in how threshold concept theory can transform tertiary teaching and learning. A facilitated practitioner action research project investigating the potential of threshold concepts across several disciplines offers a practical contribution and helps to consolidate this international field of research. In this article we show how a focus on threshold concept theory enabled tertiary teachers to work collaboratively to investigate tertiary pedagogical practices. The purpose of the article is to argue that threshold concept theory can serve as a guiding principle of pedagogical design. The article draws on findings from a research study conducted over two years by a team consisting of five practitioner researchers in four disciplines and two educational researchers who facilitated the inquiry.

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The act of constraining the research to thresholds, both in and across different fields, enabled the team to intensify discipline-specific insights and to explore wider cross-disciplinary links and differences. A threshold-constrained focus entailed making specific discipline, knowledge management, and pedagogic practices explicit to ourselves as individual practitioners and comprehensible enough to enable conversations with colleagues from other disciplines. As a result of the research, we argue that threshold-concept thinking enables three processes: usefully unsettling the meaning of being a disciplinary expert; providing a structured framework for both disciplinary and cross-disciplinary knowledge and learning; and intensifying insight into curricular content and teaching methods. We also provide an account of how the collaborative action research sparked fresh experiments, searches for new data, and reflections on the impact of threshold concepts on individual disciplines and beyond."

• CARMICHAEL, P. (2012), Tribes, Territories and Threshold Concepts: Educational materialisms at work in higher education. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 44: 31-42. doi:10.1111/j.1469-5812.2010.00743.x
"The idea of transformative and troublesome ‘threshold concepts’ has been popular and influential in higher education. This article reports how teachers with different disciplinary affiliations responded to the ‘concept of thresholds’ in the course of a cross‐disciplinary research project. It describes how the idea was territorialised and enacted through established materialising discourses in different disciplinary settings and enacted through pedagogical practice, technology and assessment. This has implications for professional development and pedagogical practice and endeavours to create ‘self‐organising classrooms’ along Deleuzian lines."

• Kelli Nicola-Richmond, Geneviève Pépin, Helen Larkin & Charlotte Taylor (2018) Threshold concepts in higher education: a synthesis of the literature relating to measurement of threshold crossing, Higher Education Research & Development,37:1, 101-114, 
DOI: 10.1080/07294360.2017.1339181.
In relation to teaching and learning approaches that improve student learning outcomes, threshold concepts have generated substantial interest in higher education. They have been described as ‘portals’ that lead to a transformed way of understanding or thinking, enabling learners to progress, and have been enthusiastically adopted to inform teaching approaches and curriculum design. A growing body of literature has critiqued the relevance and applicability of the threshold concept theory and identified threshold concepts relevant to specific disciplines. More recent research has identified how students cross these thresholds and provided measures of the successful acquisition of threshold concepts.

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This literature synthesis critiques existing evidence on threshold crossing and acquisition to provide a succinct and informative overview of the outcomes to date. Key questions relevant to educators and researchers investigating whether students acquire the threshold concepts associated with their teaching, arose from the literature synthesis. These were: whether or not threshold crossing can be measured; how variation in student learning can be addressed during measurement; tools that can be used for measuring threshold crossing; whether the way units or concepts are taught should alter prior to measurement, and the challenges and limitations of measuring threshold crossing.

• Hilary Neve, Helen Lloyd & Tracey Collett (2017) Understanding students’ experiences of professionalism learning: a ‘threshold’ approach, Teaching in Higher Education, 22:1, 92-108, DOI: 10.1080/13562517.2016.1221810.
"Professionalism is a core element of curricula in many disciplines but can be difficult to teach and learn. This study used audio-diary methodology to identify professionalism threshold concepts in a small group learning setting in undergraduate medicine and to understand factors that might facilitate students to "get" such concepts. Fifteen students and seven tutors kept audio-diaries over two terms. Data were analysed qualitatively for content. The key themes were then cross referenced to threshold concept criteria (e.g. where language indicated that learning was troublesome, integrative or transformative).

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Seven potential threshold concepts were identified which centred on students' developing professional identities including working with uncertainty, considering the bigger picture, not needing to know everything and professional culture. Reflection on workplace experiences within a small group helped students "get" these concepts. The study concludes that threshold concepts and audio-diaries are useful tools for understanding lived experiences of professionalism learning."

• Gwyneth Hughes (2019) Developing student research capability for a ‘post-truth’ world: three challenges for integrating research across taught programmes, Teaching in Higher Education, 24:3, 394-411, DOI: 10.1080/13562517.2018.1541173.
Research-based learning in taught courses develops the skills needed to judge knowledge sources and think critically in a post-truth world. In viewing research skills as threshold concepts, the paper argues that transforming a student cannot be a one-off event. Research capacity must build over a programme and this requires coherent research skill development and assessment that is progressive (ipsative). A study of five programmes each with a different design of research

more...

‘throughline’ showed that such integrated research-based learning generates three challenges. Firstly, conceptualising the research skills and progression is not easy. Secondly, the accumulation and enrichment of research skills is not readily visible to students. Finally, providing a clear support system across the programme is not straightforward. The paper concludes that these challenges need to be addressed if the potential of research-based education to enable future citizens to interrogate populist claims and reject misinformation is to be realised.

• Margaret Kiley (2015) ‘I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about’: PhD candidates and theory, Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 52:1, 52-63, DOI: 10.1080/14703297.2014.981835
Existing literature suggests that a particular learning challenge for some doctoral candidates is coming to an understanding the concept of theory, that is the use of theory to frame research as well as theorising findings. The concept of theory has been identified as a Threshold Concept taking into account the characteristics of these concepts outlined by Meyer and Land. However, there has been little work that has focused on strategies that supervisors and candidates adopt to help them move from the liminal ‘stuck’ space of not understanding, to crossing the conceptual threshold following insight and the ‘Aha!’ moment.

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This paper draws on a Threshold Concepts framework, particularly liminality and being ‘stuck’, in the analysis of interviews and discussions with 21 experienced supervisors and 10 doctoral candidates. It focuses on how participants witnessed and experienced ‘stuckness’ regarding theory and theorising and strategies adopted to assist with understanding and becoming ‘unstuck’.

• Andrea S. Webb & Anne M. Tierney (2019) Investigating support for scholarship of teaching and learning; we need SoTL educational leaders, Innovations in Education and Teaching International, DOI: 10.1080/14703297.2019.1635905
In this paper, we focus on the experience of faculty learning to do the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). Our two studies uncovered similar threshold concepts in SoTL in two contrasting contexts; one study done in the United Kingdom with teaching-focused academics while the other study, done in North America, focussed on educational leaders at a research-intensive university. Both studies revealed similar ontological and epistemological transformations of learning and doing SoTL.

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Underpinning the results of these studies is the reality that educational leaders are situated within a complex cultural network of personal, professional, and financial tensions. There are two levels of institutional culture: university level and departmental level. But, institutional policies are only useful if also supported locally. This paper is of interest to those developing their expertise in supporting SoTL, as well as faculty on a teaching and scholarship career route.

• Felten, P. and Chick, N. (2018), Is SoTL a Signature Pedagogy of Educational Development?. To Improve the Academy, 37: 4-16. doi:10.1002/tia2.20077.
In this article, we focus on questions that come into view when we look at educational development through the lenses of signature pedagogies and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). We offer this as a thought experiment in which we consider if SoTL is a signature pedagogy of educational development, simultaneously enacting and revealing the practices, values, and assumptions that underpin the diverse work of our field. By envisioning SoTL in this way, we may more clearly see the purposes and practices that unite—and that ought to guide—educational developers and educational development.

• Amrita Kaur, Rosna Awang-Hashim & Manvender Kaur (2019) Students’ experiences of co-creating classroom instruction with faculty- a case study in eastern context, Teaching in Higher Education, 24:4, 461-477, DOI: 10.1080/13562517.2018.1487930.
In order to co-create teaching and learning for enhanced student engagement, faculty–student partnership in higher education is emerging as a distinguished practice in the West especially for undergraduates. However, little is known about the impact of such practices in the East. This article reports the benefits of a term long collaboration between the faculty and students in designing and delivering classroom instructions through the experiences of faculty–student partnership of post graduate students.

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The findings indicate that while students had positive experiences, they were also distinct in a number of ways when compared with the experiences of students in the West. Students also provided insightful information on the mechanism of navigating through their newly assigned roles of partnership with their faculty. The implications are discussed for higher education practitioners and recommendations are provided for further investigation to achieve better understanding of this practice.

• Katharine E. Hubbard, Rachel Brown, Sam Deans, María Paz García, Mihai-Grigore Pruna & Matthew J. Mason (2017) Undergraduate students as co-producers in the creation of first-year practical class resources, Higher Education Pedagogies, 2:1, 58-78, DOI: 10.1080/23752696.2017.1338529.
Undergraduate students are increasingly working with academic staff to evaluate and design teaching materials in Higher Education, thereby moving from being passive consumers of knowledge to genuine partners in their education. Here we describe a student partnership project run at the University of Cambridge, which aimed to improve undergraduate biology practical class teaching. Student interns were recruited to act as researchers, pedagogical consultants and producers of teaching resources.

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Research by the interns revealed that students with limited practical experience at high-school level tended to have lower confidence and more negative responses to first-year university practical classes than peers with more experience. Interns and academics therefore redesigned the workflow for practicals to include online pre- and post-practical tutorials to support understanding and consolidation of laboratory-based material, which included student-produced quizzes and videos. We reflect on the process of building the partnership, and explore the value of partnership approaches in Higher Education.

• Alison Cook-Sather (2014) Student-faculty partnership in explorations of pedagogical practice: a threshold concept in academic development, International Journal for Academic Development, 19:3, 186-198, DOI: 10.1080/1360144X.2013.805694.
Student-faculty partnerships position students as informants, participants, and change agents in collaboration with faculty members. Enacting one form of such collaboration, Bryn Mawr College’s SaLT program pairs faculty members and undergraduate students in explorations of pedagogical practice. The program provides both context and case study for this form of Student-faculty partnership as a threshold concept in academic development. Like all threshold concepts, the notion of Student-faculty partnership is troublesome, transformative, irreversible, and integrative. This article draws on faculty reflections to explore what constitutes this threshold, the insights and practices that are possible if faculty cross it, and implications for academic developers.

• Zito, A. J. (2019), Broaching Threshold Concepts: The Trouble with “Skills” Language in Defining Student Learning Goals. To Improve the Academy, 38: 67-81. doi:10.1002/tia2.20086.
This essay argues that description of student learning goals as various “skills” presents a conceptual threshold lying between and connecting routinely dichotomized characterizations of student learning—most notably, “concrete” versus “abstract.” Qualitative analysis of instructor interviews shows that “skills” language tends to conceal abstract (i.e. affective) learning goals behind more concrete (i.e. cognitive) ones. Ultimately, this essay proposes that cognitive and affective student learning goals might be more clearly articulated using threshold concepts within and across disciplines, and that the recognition of “skills” as both affective and cognitive is itself a threshold concept in educational development.

• Kelli Nicola-Richmond, Geneviève Pépin, Helen Larkin & Charlotte Taylor (2018) Threshold concepts in higher education: a synthesis of the literature relating to measurement of threshold crossing, Higher Education Research & Development,37:1, 101-114, 
DOI: 10.1080/07294360.2017.1339181.
In relation to teaching and learning approaches that improve student learning outcomes, threshold concepts have generated substantial interest in higher education. They have been described as ‘portals’ that lead to a transformed way of understanding or thinking, enabling learners to progress, and have been enthusiastically adopted to inform teaching approaches and curriculum design. A growing body of literature has critiqued the relevance and applicability of the threshold concept theory and identified threshold concepts relevant to specific disciplines. More recent research has identified how students cross these thresholds and provided measures of the successful acquisition of threshold concepts.

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This literature synthesis critiques existing evidence on threshold crossing and acquisition to provide a succinct and informative overview of the outcomes to date. Key questions relevant to educators and researchers investigating whether students acquire the threshold concepts associated with their teaching, arose from the literature synthesis. These were: whether or not threshold crossing can be measured; how variation in student learning can be addressed during measurement; tools that can be used for measuring threshold crossing; whether the way units or concepts are taught should alter prior to measurement, and the challenges and limitations of measuring threshold crossing.

• Andrea S. Webb & Anne M. Tierney (2019) Investigating support for scholarship of teaching and learning; we need SoTL educational leaders, Innovations in Education and Teaching International, DOI: 10.1080/14703297.2019.1635905
In this paper, we focus on the experience of faculty learning to do the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). Our two studies uncovered similar threshold concepts in SoTL in two contrasting contexts; one study done in the United Kingdom with teaching-focused academics while the other study, done in North America, focussed on educational leaders at a research-intensive university. Both studies revealed similar ontological and epistemological transformations of learning and doing SoTL.

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Underpinning the results of these studies is the reality that educational leaders are situated within a complex cultural network of personal, professional, and financial tensions. There are two levels of institutional culture: university level and departmental level. But, institutional policies are only useful if also supported locally. This paper is of interest to those developing their expertise in supporting SoTL, as well as faculty on a teaching and scholarship career route.

• Hilary Neve, Helen Lloyd & Tracey Collett (2017) Understanding students’ experiences of professionalism learning: a ‘threshold’ approach, Teaching in Higher Education, 22:1, 92-108, DOI: 10.1080/13562517.2016.1221810.
Professionalism is a core element of curricula in many disciplines but can be difficult to teach and learn. This study used audio-diary methodology to identify professionalism threshold concepts in a small group learning setting in undergraduate medicine and to understand factors that might facilitate students to ‘get’ such concepts. Fifteen students and seven tutors kept audio-diaries over two terms. Data were analysed qualitatively for content.

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The key themes were then cross referenced to threshold concept criteria (e.g. where language indicated that learning was troublesome, integrative or transformative). Seven potential threshold concepts were identified which centred on students’ developing professional identities including working with uncertainty, considering the bigger picture, not needing to know everything and professional culture. Reflection on workplace experiences within a small group helped students ‘get’ these concepts. The study concludes that threshold concepts and audio-diaries are useful tools for understanding lived experiences of professionalism learning.

• Thomas, Theda and Wallace, Joy and Allen, Pamela and Clark, Jennifer and Cole, Bronwyn and Jones, Adrian and Lawrence, Jill and Sheridan-Burns, Lynette (2014) Engaging first year lecturers with threshold learning outcomes and concepts in their disciplines. In: 17th International First Year in Higher Education Conference (FYHE 2014), 6-9 July 2014, Darwin, Australia.
"In this paper, we report on an investigation of what students need to learn in the first year in various discipline-based subjects to launch then on their way to meet specified discipline threshold learning outcomes (TLOs) by the time they graduate. We frame our investigation using both the threshold concepts that the students must master in first year in order to succeed in learning in the discipline and also the threshold learning outcomes that they need to achieve

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by third year. We describe and analyse workshops used to engage lecturers with the challenges of designing first year curriculum in their r discipline, suggest why threshold concepts are useful in focusing both lecturers and students on what is essential, and outline briefly some of the creative solutions the lecturers offered".

• Julie A. Timmermans & Jan H. F. Meyer (2017) A framework for working with university teachers to create and embed ‘Integrated Threshold Concept Knowledge’ (ITCK) in their practice, International Journal for Academic Development, DOI: 10.1080/1360144X.2017.1388241
"In this paper, we propose a framework to help educational developers navigate the now vast literature on threshold concepts, so that they may effectively support university teachers in their work to embed threshold concept knowledge into courses and programs. This research- and practice-informed framework consists of seven principles and seven clusters of activities.

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It includes an ‘actionable literature review’ – a distillation and synthesis of threshold conceptrelated knowledge that can be acted upon and adapted in a variety of settings by educational developers and teachers."

•  Amrita Kaur, Rosna Awang-Hashim & Manvender Kaur (2019) Students’ experiences of co-creating classroom instruction with faculty- a case study in eastern context, Teaching in Higher Education, 24:4, 461-477, DOI: 10.1080/13562517.2018.1487930.
In order to co-create teaching and learning for enhanced student engagement, faculty-student partnership in higher education is emerging as a distinguished practice in the West especially for undergraduates. However, little is known about the impact of such practices in the East. This article reports the benefits of a term long collaboration between the faculty and students in designing and delivering classroom instructions through the experiences of faculty–student partnership of post graduate students.

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The findings indicate that while students had positive experiences, they were also distinct in a number of ways when compared with the experiences of students in the West. Students also provided insightful information on the mechanism of navigating through their newly assigned roles of partnership with their faculty. The implications are discussed for higher education practitioners and recommendations are provided for further investigation to achieve better understanding of this practice.</p></details>

• Margaret Kiley (2015) ‘I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about’: PhD candidates and theory, Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 52:1, 52-63, DOI: 10.1080/14703297.2014.981835
Existing literature suggests that a particular learning challenge for some doctoral candidates is coming to an understanding the concept of theory, that is the use of theory to frame research as well as theorising findings. The concept of theory has been identified as a Threshold Concept taking into account the characteristics of these concepts outlined by Meyer and Land. However, there has been little work that has focused on strategies that supervisors and candidates adopt to help them move from the liminal ‘stuck’ space of not understanding, to crossing the conceptual threshold following insight and the ‘Aha!’ moment.

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This paper draws on a Threshold Concepts framework, particularly liminality and being ‘stuck’, in the analysis of interviews and discussions with 21 experienced supervisors and 10 doctoral candidates. It focuses on how participants witnessed and experienced ‘stuckness’ regarding theory and theorising and strategies adopted to assist with understanding and becoming ‘unstuck’.

• Jeffrey M. Keefer (2015) Experiencing doctoral liminality as a conceptual threshold and how supervisors can use it, Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 52:1, 17-28, DOI: 10.1080/14703297.2014.981839
Doctoral students face numerous challenges along the path toward achieving a doctorate. With the experience likened to a rite of passage, many face periods of confusion and disorientation, liminal periods of being betwixt and between. Threshold concept theory, reconceived as conceptual thresholds when experienced on the doctoral level, can inform how they are understood. The aim of this research is to explore liminal experiences during the doctoral journey and offer suggestions for how supervisors can better support their learners. This qualitative narrative inquiry explored doctoral liminality amongst 23 participants coming from five countries and 19 different disciplines.

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Findings cut across the diversity of the participants, with their liminal experiences comprising a sense of isolation, lack of confidence and impostor syndrome, and research misalignment. Periods of liminality were rarely discussed, even after long periods of time. Findings are offered to provide guidance for supervisors to help support and scaffold their learners.