Composition Forum (Fall 2012): Threshold Concepts, Learning, and Movement

Check out my recent co-authored publication:

(Fall, 2012). Threshold Concepts, Learning, and Movement: A Case Study in Two General Education Courses. Composition Forum (special issue on transfer). (26).


“This article ultimately suggests that threshold concepts might prove a productive frame through which to consider questions related to writing and transfer, and also to general education more broadly.”

Following the lead of Bass (2009) and Robertson (2011), Linda Adler-Kassner, John Majewski and I have worked, with a recent CCCC presentation (2012) and a Composition Forum (2012) article, to help introduce and advance threshold concepts (Meyer and Land, 2006) as a flexible conceptual and research heuristic through which to study and describe the nature of transfer in writing.

We also presented our findings at: “Complicating “transfer” articulating thresholds for writing and learning across disciplines.” College Composition and Communication Conference (CCCC). St. Louis, Missouri, March 21st-24th, 2012.

In follow up research, I am currently using the threshold concept literature on liminality to identify and describe the tacit and discursive schemas-for-writing that graduate students, who also self-identify as working professionals, “carry” between their academic and workplace settings.

Bass, Randy. A Hitchiker’s Guide to Threshold Concepts, Student Learning, and the Teaching of Writing Within the Disciplines. 2009. TS.

Meyer, Jan H. F., and Ray Land. Overcoming Barriers to Student Understanding. London: Routledge, 2006. Print.

Meyer, Jan H. F., and Ray Land. Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge: An Introduction. Overcoming Barriers to Student Understanding. Ed. Jan H. F. Meyer and Ray Land. London: Routledge, 2006. 3-18. Print.

—–. Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge: Issues of Liminality. Overcoming Barriers to Student Understanding. Ed. Jan H. F. Meyer and Ray Land. London: Routledge, 2006. 19-32. Print

Robertson, Liane. The Significance of Course Content in the Transfer of Writing Knowledge from First-Year Composition to Other Academic Writing Contexts. Diss. Florida State U, 2011. Print.

But what is a threshold concept?

A good place to start is -“Threshold Concepts: Undergraduate Teaching, Postgraduate Training and Professional Development”:

“The threshold concept framework focuses on the identification of what is fundamental to the grasp of a subject and is essentially a transactional curriculum enquiry requiring a partnership between the relevant subject experts, educational researchers and learners.” Cousin, G. (2009), Transactional Curriculum Inquiry: Researching Threshold Concepts, In: Researching Learning in Higher Education: An Introduction to Contemporary Methods and Approaches, Routledge, Abingdon & NY, Chapter 13, pp 201-212.