Upcoming Threshold Concepts Conference will focus on new research & practice frontiers


Published: May 14, 2016 by Virginia Tucker

The next biennial conference on threshold concepts is coming up next month and will be hosted by Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. This will be the third threshold concepts conference I’ve participated in and it is always an engaging time with attendees from a wide range of academic disciplines. At the 2014 conference, held in Durham, England, I discussed topics with educators in physics, religious studies, instructional design, and mathematics, to name a few.  They hailed from countries all over the world. A highpoint was the conference dinner at Durham Castle (see photo). This year I’ll be presenting on how I redesigned one of the courses I teach, INFO 244 Online Searching, based on threshold concept research completed as part of my PhD studies. Specifically, the paper will be based on threshold concepts for search expertise (Tucker, 2014). This domain of search expertise is of significant interest in higher education as it has cross-disciplinary consequence: critical concepts connected to expertlike search behaviors are relevant to many academic subjects.

In redesigning the course, one of my primary objectives was to be deliberate in creating opportunities for students to wrestle with concepts. I developed assignments and activities designed for “more making of space for discovery moments and for students to experience—and get to know—unknowing and uncertainty” (Tucker, 2016, p. 13). My role, as educator-researcher, was to help students move forward toward and through troublesome and transformative learning and to ensure my own transience in my educator role, as this can be “one measure of the integrative nature of a threshold experience for the student” (Tucker, 2016, p. 12). The redesigned course is being evaluated using student discussion posts as the main dataset of qualitative evidence. The course has online discussion forums and students are asked in the final weeks to answer questions about key take-aways and their reflections on critical concepts learned. Part of the conference session will be guided discussion with attendees on the topic of how course redesign of this type can impact the educator. I plan to post here again to report on the conference.

Tucker, V.M. (2016). Learning experiences and the liminality of expertise. In R.Land, H.F Meyer, & M.T. Flanagan (Eds.), Threshold Concepts in Practice, Chapter 8. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.
Tucker, V.M. (2014). Learning experiences in the novice-expert liminal space. Fifth Biennial International Threshold Concepts Conference, July 2014, Durham, England.
Tucker, V.M., Weedman, J., Bruce, C., & Edwards, S.L. (2014). Learning portals: Analyzing threshold concept theory for LIS education. Journal of Education for Library & Information Science, 55(2), 150-165.


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