Nurturing the independent-thinking practitioner: using threshold concepts to transform undergraduate learning
AffiliationNewman University College, Birmingham
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AbstractThis article explores the experience of employing the theory of threshold concepts to curricular re-design to transform students' learning experiences. As part of our annual review in 2011, programme team members raised the concern that some graduates from our vocational-type degree programme – BA (Hons) Working with Children, Young People and Families – did not appear to develop the links between 'theory' and 'practice' as effectively as other graduates. Reflection on the three-year old degree programme, designed to provide a foundation for those wishing to move into, or study further, in areas such as family support and social work, revealed two areas for further consideration. First, the programme's modular format appeared to encourage students to view aspects of their studies as unconnected. Secondly, its original design had been premised on a series of 'need to know' areas of policy, theory and practice which had been added to over time, with little taken out. In short, the curriculum appeared to have become both 'stuffed' and fragmented and did not appear to provide the ideal platform from which to engage students in the development of the knowledge, skills and understanding for future professional practice. Using the theory of threshold concepts as our starting point, we were able to identify key themes, ideas and activities that we perceived to be central to nurturing and developing independent and employable practitioners. The following article recounts our journey towards curriculum change, detailing how programme threshold concepts were identified and how these were subsequently applied in curriculum re-design.
CitationMonk, C., Cleaver, E., Hyland, C. & Brotherton, G. (2012) 'Nuturing the independent-thinking practitioner: Using threshold concepts to transform undergraduate learning', Journal of Pedagogic Development, 2 (3), pp.10-16.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
JournalJournal of pedagogic development
Series/Report no.Volume 2
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