Keynote Speaker

Keynote Speaker

Ray Land is Emeritus Professor of Higher Education and Emeritus Fellow of University College at Durham University. He has published widely in educational research, including works on academic development, learning technology and quality enhancement. He is best known for the educational theory of Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge, which he established with Prof Jan Meyer. He has acted as consultant for the OECD, the European Commission and the British Council and has conducted projects in Europe, Latin America, Africa, Russia and India. He has presented his research in over fifty countries across six continents. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He recently spent a year as Gambrinus Fellow of the Technical University of Dortmund, Germany.

Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge: A Transformational Approach to Pharmacology Education

This session will introduce and discuss the Threshold Concepts Framework (TCF), a discipline-based and transformative model of learning which can be used as a conceptual tool and an analytical framework to inform course and programme design. Threshold concepts have been characterised as the ‘jewels in the curriculum’ – the key transitions in understanding and shifts in emerging professional identity that have lasting effect. A threshold concept can be considered akin to a portal, opening up a new and previously inaccessible way of thinking about something, and leading the learner into new conceptual terrain. It represents a transformed way of understanding, without which the learner cannot progress, and invariably involves a shift in the learner’s subjectivity, or sense of self. As a consequence of comprehending a threshold concept there is a transformed internal view of subject matter, subject landscape, or even world view. This transformation may be protracted, however, with the transition to understanding often involving 'troublesome knowledge'. Depending on discipline and context, knowledge might be troublesome because it is ritualised, inert, conceptually difficult, alien or tacit, because it requires adopting an unfamiliar discourse, or perhaps because the learner remains ‘defended’, resisting the inevitable ‘ontological’ shift that threshold concepts entail. Difficulty in understanding threshold concepts may leave the learner in a state of 'liminality', a suspended state or 'stuck place' in which understanding approximates to a kind of 'mimicry' or lack of authenticity. This session will provide an outline of the Thresholds approach followed by an exploration, through discussion, of its implications for Pharmacology Education.