How was it for you? A cross-disciplinary study of ‘troublesome knowledge’ as identified by undergraduate students and lecturers in Geography, Medical Science and Psychology

Siobhan B. G. MacAndrew, Nicholas Spedding, Susan Jamieson

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Abstract

We carried out a small scale pilot study to determine whether participants would spontaneously identify Threshold Concepts (TC’s) and/or troublesome knowledge during open questioning on the characteristics of their disciplines. Students and lecturers reflected upon both easy and difficult aspects of their studies or teaching practice in either group discussions or one-to-one interviews. We compared students and staff observations both within and between the disciplines we examined (Geography, Medical Sciences and Psychology undergraduate degrees). Our intention was to provide specific examples of TC’s within our three disciplines to inform further discussion of embedding the enhancement theme both in our practice and in the learning experiences of our students. Our working hypothesis was that if TC’s exerted an influence on the teaching and learning experience either negatively or otherwise, then we would find ample evidence supplied in our interviews. What we found was that overwhelmingly our interviewees focussed on generic skills-based aspects of teaching and learning. Only three potential content-specific TC’s were offered spontaneously by students and these were all from the discipline of geography.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherThe Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011

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