Using threshold concepts to think about curriculum design

//Using threshold concepts to think about curriculum design

Thank you so much to everyone who helped out, presented, turned up on a wet Saturday or just joined in from afar on our creaky Livestream (I’m particularly devastated that Professor Ray Land’s keynote will be lost to posterity!)

I will, in due course, write something which pulls together the experience of organising Saturday’s #researchED’s first subject-specific conference, but for now, here are the slides you’ve all been clamouring for (actually no one has asked, but in case you were vaguely interested.)

You can also watch me try to explain what I mean here. In case you’re wondering why I’m so puffed at the start, hilariously (!) I hadn’t managed to save the talk on to my memory stick and had to sprint out to my car to find my laptop with minutes to space.
All the other talks that were filmed will be uploaded on the Swindon Academy YouTube channel.


  1. K. November 8, 2015 at 5:51 pm - Reply

    I really enjoyed Research Ed yesterday and my head is buzzing. Prof Land’s keynote was just tremendous. I live my life in liminal states so it really chimed with me. I think i bored him trying to talk about Jekyll/Hyde as the ultimate troublesome threshold metaphor though!

    It would be very interesting to see whether we have a shared view of what the threshold concepts are across English Departments. I would also say there is a great appetite for subject specific research in English and literacy (possibly across phases too) so i look forward to the next one.

    • Abena November 15, 2015 at 7:01 am - Reply

      “It would be very interesting to see whether we have a shared view of what the threshold concepts are across English Departments.”
      Wouldn’t it just! And I wonder if we’d agree on the threshold concepts of ‘English’ regardless of curriculum or exam board…

  2. David Williams November 8, 2015 at 8:31 pm - Reply

    Been thinking a lot about this. Do you think enjoyment or feeling can actually be detrimental to learning. I’m thinking of the enjoyable lecture you attended without remembering what it meant. Also made me think of advertising. Some adverts are entertaining, but actually they are terrible at getting you to remember or buy the product. There was a “Vicks First Defence” ad like that. On the other hand “Cillit Bang” although crass is actually a highly effective advert – who can forget Barry?
    What do you think?

    • Abena November 15, 2015 at 7:04 am - Reply

      I’m not sure about it being detrimental, so much as a poor indicator of learning. I thought other research indicated that greater engagement led to better learning? I’m not talking about the ‘Shrek’ lesson but rather, if there was a reason for students to learn or it had some importance / relevance to them, they were more likely to make an effort and possibly retain it.

  3. Paul Rees November 9, 2015 at 6:27 pm - Reply

    Thanks to all of you for organising Saturday’s event. Much to mull over. I wonder if anyone could remind me of the links that Prof Land put up on screen at the end of his session. I didn’t take a picture and missed the key reference to someone from a London University, I think. Cheers.

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  6. Abena November 15, 2015 at 7:04 am - Reply

    So how long do we wait to see if the gamble did indeed pay off? Any interim results that indicate greater learning or will that only come at the end of the GCSE (?) course?

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