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Wednesday, June 22 • 16:45 - 18:00
POSTER.27 - Reflecting on threshold concepts as a framework for building a community of learners in doctoral education

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In this poster, we discuss how one cohort of students, pursuing a PhD degree in Education, worked through threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge by building a student-led community of learners. This developed into a community of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991), a group of “people who share a concern or passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly” (Wenger, 2009, p. 1). As members of this community of practice, participants were able to navigate threshold concepts arising in their PhD program. Threshold concepts, understood as “critical moments of irreversible conceptual transformation in the educational experiences of learners” (Meyer & Land, 2005, p. 373), act as “conceptual gateways.” These gateways lead to thinking and knowledge which were previously inaccessible, sometimes troublesome (Meyer & Land, 2003), and represented transformed understanding (Kiley & Wisker, 2009). Group members’ reflective responses were collected and thematic analysed to determine the meaningful outcomes of participation in the community of learners. Readers will have the opportunity to view their own learning in terms of threshold concepts, and will discuss the value of a community of learners at various levels in post-secondary education. Readers will also be encouraged to examine their own learning through threshold concepts and to consider the value of developing communities of learners. This topic will be of interest to graduate students and those who support them, such as supervisors and administrators, as it has implications for graduate student progression and program completion. The findings from our study support the position that threshold concepts are a useful framework for supporting graduate level learning (Kiley & Wisker, 2009).


Natalie Currie-Patterson

Natalie Currie-Patterson, OCT is a PhD Candidate in the Faculty of Education at Western University in London, Ontario. Her research investigates how educators understand and enact Indigenous education policies in Ontario's secondary schools, their professional development opportunities... Read More →
avatar for Kathryn Hansen

Kathryn Hansen

PhD Candidate/ Professor, Western University/ St. Clair College
Kathryn Hansen is a PhD candidate at Western University in London, Ontario. Her research interests are generated from her background in community college teaching and adult learning. Her current research explores early career faculty preparation and development as a key to quality... Read More →

Phillipa Myers

Phillipa Myers is a doctoral candidate in Critical Policy, Equity, and Leadership Studies at Western University’s Faculty of Education. Based on a breadth and depth of diverse teaching experiences, Phillipa’s current research explores the experiences of immigrant girls in Canadian... Read More →
avatar for Joelle Nagle

Joelle Nagle

Western University
Joelle Nagle is a PhD candidate at Western University in London, Ontario. Her research interests include the professional learning of teachers in graduate education, multiliteracies, and multimodalities in teaching and learning, as well as using social media as a venue for professional... Read More →

Additional Authors

Irene Melabiotis

Irene Melabiotis, MEd, OCT, is a doctoral candidate at Western University's Faculty of Education, in the area of applied psychology. She is an Ontario Certified Teacher (OCT) and a supply teacher with the Toronto District School Board. Her research interests include arts integration... Read More →

Wednesday June 22, 2016 16:45 - 18:00 EDT
Atrium, Physics & Astronomy Building Western University