22 SES 03 E, Innovative Perspectives on Teaching and Learning
Internationally, countries are looking toward tertiary education to contribute to their social and economic growth as part of a shift to the 21century knowledge society (OECD, 2008). This means that increasing the quality of tertiary graduates is an imperative. Participants in today’s knowledge society need to develop explicit skills, motivation, and metacognitive understanding of how to learn. Engineers have a key role to play in translating knowledge into the innovative competitive products and services central to today’s increasingly technology-driven society. Hence, engineering students need opportunities to develop both technical and non-technical competencies such as strategic analytical skills, creativity along with practical ingenuity, good communication skills, and the capacity to pursue lifelong learning. It is crucial then that tertiary educators develop curricula that enable students to develop these capacities during their undergraduate studies.
In our project, education researchers and university lecturers in electronic engineering collaborated and explored the potential of threshold concept theory andthe flipped classroom model to engage lecturers in the re-envisioning of their pedagogy in a way that attends to the epistemological and ontological dimensions of learning.
According to threshold concept theory, in each academic discipline there exist special concepts that once grasped allow new and previously inaccessible ways of thinking about and perceiving the subject to emerge (Meyer & Land, 2003). Threshold concepts (TCs) have been linked to ontological shifts (Meyer, Land, & Baillie, 2010), changes in identity, and shifts in subjectivity that come with the reconfiguration of a learner’s prior conceptual framework. These changes are central to what it means to become an artist, economist or engineer. Through our previous work, including a two-year TLRI project that investigated TCs in management, engineering, English literature and doctoral education (Peter & Harlow 2014; Peter, Harlow, Scott, Balsom, & Round, 2013) we have found that TC theory is an effective theoretical framework for supporting lecturers to re-envision teaching and learning.
In a flipped classroom lecture materials are usually assigned as take-home tasks, accessible through online modalities. This allows the lecturer-student class contact time to be devoted to addressing student questions and problem solving. Flipping the focus of class time allows students to take increased responsibility for their own learning through active investigation both in and out of class time. This changes the class time focus and dynamics from the transmission of knowledge to one involving collaborative, interactive learning and just-in-time teaching.
Given the current goals for tertiary education, to better prepare students to apply what they know in new and creative ways in the real world and novel situations it is imperative that students master threshold concepts, competencies, and practices in order to reinforce their conceptual development and bolster “threshold actions” within and outside the classroom. This is in line with the real value of the TC framework for exploring how students come to know, act, and imagine themselves and the greater theoretical landscape of disciplinary ways of thinking and practicing. Current identification of threshold concepts/competencies in engineering has broadened beyond content/technical knowledge to include soft skills, such as teamwork (i.e., thinking and working together), and communication, both oral and written, that are important to 21st century engineering practice (Male, Bush, & Chapman, 2011; Male & Baillie, 2014). In our study we addressed the following research questions:
How a flipped classroom model impacts on the teaching of TCs.
How a flipped classroom model impacts on student learning of TCs.
References Male, S.A., & C.A. Baillie. (2014). Research guided teaching practices: Engineering thresholds; an approach to curriculum renewal. In A. Johri & B. Olds (Eds.), Cambridge Handbook of Engineering Education Research (pp. 393–408). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. Male, S.A., Bush, M.B. & Chapman, E.S. (2011). An Australian study of generic competencies required by engineers. European Journal of Engineering Education, 36, 151–163. Meyer, J., & Land, R. (2003). Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge: Linkages to ways of thinking and practising within the disciplines, in C. Rust. (Ed.), Improving student learning: Ten years on. Oxford: OCSLD. Meyer, J., Land, R., & Baillie, C. (Eds.). (2010). Threshold concepts and transformational learning. Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense Publishers. OECD. (2008). Thematic review of tertiary education: synthesis report overview. Paris, France: Tertiary Education for the Knowledge Society Series Peter, M. & Harlow, A. (2014). Re-envisioning tertiary teaching and learning of difficult concepts: How “threshold concepts” afford understanding of problematic ideas. Retrieved from http://www.tlri.org.nz/tlri-research/research-progress/post-school-sector/re-envisioning-tertiary-teaching-and-learning Peter, M., Harlow, A., Scott, J., Balsom, T., & Round, H. (2013). On the threshold: Affordances of online tutorials in the learning of threshold concepts. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Perception and Action (ICPA). Lisbon, Portugal.
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