Threshold concepts, disciplinary differences and cross-disciplinary discourse

Patrick Carmichael


‘Threshold concepts’ have proved a useful framing for enquiry
into teaching and learning in higher education and early
professional learning. Most studies have, however, been
concerned with the nature and role of threshold concepts in
specific disciplines. This paper discusses how they can also be
used as a means of initiating cross-disciplinary discourse. In so
doing, they challenge teachers to consider what is distinctive
about their own disciplinary ‘ways of thinking and practicing’
and invite reflection: not simply on teaching and learning ‘in
the disciplines’, but also on the potential for working across
disciplinary boundaries. This also raises important issues about
the recruitment, induction and orientation of students as they
make transitions into higher education in the Gulf context, as

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