Friday, 2 November 2007

Threshold concepts at GSA

At the recent GSA 2007 meeting in Denver we took the opportunity to introduce the geoscience community to threshold concepts by presenting a poster at one of the Geoscience Education sessions. This proved to be really successful, with many people stopping by during the 4 hour session either because they had heard of threshold concepts and were interested to hear more, or because they knew nothing about them and were curious to know what it was all about.

We had absolutely no idea how threshold concepts would be received at GSA - Julie, Helen and I believe that threshold concepts exist in the geosciences, but would anyone else? Well apparently they do, and it seems that there is a very important dialogue to be had about what exactly students 'need to know' in order to become geoscientists. The reference on the poster to the 'stuffed curriculum' drew some wry smiles.......this is something that seemed to resonate with a lot of people! So by the end of the session we'd had some great conversations, and felt really encouraged by the positive way in which our poster was received. There were also a couple of comments about our blog not being updated since May, so clearly people have been looking!

What happens now? We'd like to use this blog as a vehicle to continue the discussions that were started at GSA. Everyone should be able to post comments to, and read, the blog entries which will be a record of our ongoing dialogue. The next major 'event' where we'll have the opportunity to get people together in person will be the 2nd International Threshold Concepts Symposium in Kingston, Ontario next year, so it would be good to get some idea from the geoscience community about a) what we think might be threshold concepts in the geosciences, and b) how our curricula can be developed to ensure that students acquire these threshold concepts.

So the floor is open - over to you!