Transforming Perspectives

Technology to Support the Teaching and Learning of Threshold Concepts

About the Project


The project is funded for six months (October 2006 - March 2007) under the joint ESRC/EPSRC 'Technology Enhanced Learning' Programme which is part of the Teaching and Learning Research Programme (ESRC Grant RES-139-25-0361). It emerged from a collaboration between members of the 'Teaching for Learning Network' (TFLN) and a number of other projects funded by the Cambridge-MIT Institute.

This project will establish an interdisciplinary network in order to develop strategies for technology-enhanced teaching and learning of 'threshold concepts' in higher education. Effective teaching of these transformative, irreversible, integrative and often 'troublesome' concepts demands that teachers provide students with flexible learning activities designed to support learning as a form of conceptual change. They represent a challenge to both traditional and technology-enhanced teaching and learning environments and this promising field has not been adequately investigated to date. Effective investigation of threshold concepts in technology-enhanced learning can only be achieved through interdisciplinary research involving Computer Science, Education, Cognitive Science and other disciplines.

Ultimate beneficiaries of this proposal will be teachers and learners across subject areas in Higher Education and potentially across other educational settings and phases including schools and workplace learning. This project is primarily concerned with research and development of approaches and solutions which address the personalisation of learning and the development of flexibility in provision. Threshold concepts are associated with conceptual change models of learning, and as such may offer the basis for learner-centred activities that promote reflection, self-regulation and independence. Better understanding of how to support learners developed from interdisciplinary perspectives will inform inclusion issues including widening participation in Higher Education and better alignment of university and work-based learning.

Project Community

Camtools Materials relating to the review of literature, the project seminars and other project activities (see Project Aims for details) are being developed within a dedicated 'Virtual Research Environment' hosted on the CamTools Server at the University of Cambridge. This can be accessed here.
center for Applied Research in Educational Technologies, University of Cambridge Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge Rainbow Research Group, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge Teaching and Learning Research Programme