Towards a Role-Reversal Model of Threshold Concept Pedagogy

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding


    This paper discusses how a previously designed e-learning role-reversal model (Orsini-Jones and Davidson, 1999) was merged with threshold concept pedagogy to create a new model of action-research supported threshold concept pedagogy that originated as ‘student-centred’ (Orsini-Jones, 2008) but subsequently became ‘student-driven’ (OrsiniJones et al., 2010). The distinguishing feature of the methodological choice illustrated here is that action research is used in conjunction with threshold concept pedagogy to develop student-centred and student-initiated cycles of pedagogical inquiry. Land, Meyer and Smith (2008, pp. ix-xxi) suggest that the identification of threshold concepts allows tutors to put in place targeted curricular interventions aiming at transforming the students’ learning experience, identifying troublesome knowledge and making such ‘troublesome knowledge’ less troublesome. The joint use of action research with threshold concept pedagogy provides a unique opportunity for a constructivist staff/student exploration of the transformational challenges learners face when they encounter troublesome knowledge. The initial encounter of the author with threshold concept pedagogy was motivated by a drive towards helping first and second year undergraduate students reading English and Languages at Coventry University with their transformational learning journey across the challenging terrain of difficult or alien knowledge. However, working closely with students on troublesome linguistic knowledge brought into view the realisation that their insights would benefit other students more than the lecturer. This resulted in the development of a new approach, where ‘expert’ undergraduate students are taking the reins of the curricular research interventions to better understand why some of the peers struggle with the threshold concepts identified previously in the field of linguistics (Lund, 2010) or even to explore new ones (Lee, 2011). The lecturers therefore learn from their students’ research into threshold concepts, in a role-reversal pedagogical model.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThreshold Concepts: From Personal Practice to Communities
    EditorsCatherine O'Mahony, Avril Buchanan, Mary O'Rourke, Bettie Higgs
    Place of PublicationIreland
    ISBN (Print)978-1-906642-59-4
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    EventNational Academy's Sixth Annual Conference and the Fourth Biennial Threshold Concepts Conference - Dublin, Ireland
    Duration: 27 Jun 201229 Jun 2012


    ConferenceNational Academy's Sixth Annual Conference and the Fourth Biennial Threshold Concepts Conference


    • Role-reversal
    • students
    • thresholds
    • action research
    • grammar
    • graduate employment


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